The University of Waterloo has a team dedicated to making a real, working pod system for the ambitious Hyperloop transportation system envisioned by Tesla founder Elon Musk. The so-called ‘Waterloop,’ (bonus points for puns) got a test run yesterday, making the team the first to demonstrate a functioning, pneumatic levitation system on a test track using nothing but air to float their test objects.
It was a scaled down test, and still a far cry from a pod capable of actually transporting humans, but it’s a sign that the 120-strong team of engineering students is on the right track (hope someone is conferring bonus points on me for puns, too). Using air to levitate a car-like object on a track is a big achievement (even when propelled by team members as in the demo above) and one that could lead to decreased cost and friction. This could make it a lot easier for future production Hyperloop systems to achieve the ambitious high speeds they’re aiming for.
Waterloo’s Waterloop team is still in the running among 22 teams competing in a SpaceX-run competition designed to bring out the best in Hyperloop pod design. Said competition is currently set for January 2017, and will take place at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, California. Between now and then, the Waterloo team has a lot to get done, and will now focus on their own test track facility at Kitchener’s Lot 41 innovation center in Canada.
Waterloop is funding its project in part via Kickstarter, and while it’s achieved its goal, there’s still time to contribute if you’re looking to help propel Hyperloop transportation research forward.