An inter-disciplinary team of RMIT students is revolutionising the future of transportation as the only finalists from the Southern Hemisphere in Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition.
In an Australian first, VicHyper have unveiled their Hyperloop pod prototype at RMIT.
Taking on the impossible, the team designed and constructed a functional Hyperloop pod prototype and will compete as finalists at the SpaceX Hyperloop Competition Weekend in California early next year.
Placing Australian ingenuity on the world stage alongside Stanford, MIT and Delft universities, VicHyper will be the first team in the world to operate a Linear Induction Motor within a vacuum.
Hyperloop is redefining high-speed ground transportation, with the ability to transport both people and cargo at the speed of sound (1200 km/h).
To reach these unprecedented speeds, a pod travels within an elevated tube network held at a near vacuum utilising magnetic levitation and Linear Induction Motors.
With an award-winning braking system, VicHyper has been selected from more than 1700 global entries to compete in the final 30 and accelerate the development of Hyperloop technologies.
VicHyper Project Leader, Zac McClelland said: “At VicHyper, we are anticipating the transportation needs of tomorrow rather than reacting to the problems of today. Hyperloop will be the solution to connect us like never before.
“Imagine living in Melbourne and working in Sydney with only a 50 minute commute, or travelling to regional Australia within minutes. We are making it a reality.”
Breaking the barriers of distance, VicHyper is striving to develop Hyperloop technologies to implement in Australia, connecting both metropolitan and regional areas at the speed of sound.
RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Martin Bean CBE, said the VicHyper team is a wonderful example of the power of collaborating across disciplines.
The team is made up of students with expertise spanning aerospace, electrical and mechanical engineering, industrial design, communications and graphic design.
“As well as working across disciplines, collaboration with industry has been at the heart of the VicHyper project, with our students being generously guided and mentored by industry leaders and practitioners,” Martin said.
“By developing the very first Australian Hyperloop pod prototype, the VicHyper team is helping turn science fiction into science reality. We are incredibly proud of their efforts and I wish them every success.”
VicHyper is advancing the development of Hyperloop to emerge as a viable fifth mode of transport, rivalling planes for speed and cars for safety.
VicHyper won the Braking Subsystem Technical Excellence Award at the semi-finals SpaceX Pod Design Weekend in Texas in January this year.
They were also recently awarded the Highly Commended certificate at the #TechDiversity Awards by Victorian Minister of Small Business, Trade and Innovation, Philip Dalidakis, who attended the official unveiling of the prototype pod.
Steve Abson, CEO of the Infrastructure Association of Queensland, said Hyperloop could provide the solution to Australia's growing problem of connectivity.
“It is only a matter of time before we have a major high-speed transport network connecting our major cities, especially along the Australian eastern seaboard. Hyperloop could very well be this network," Abson said.
"IAQ are great supporters of our young talent operating day to day in the infrastructure sector.
"Made up of aspiring young professionals, VicHyper, is finding innovative solutions to our future transport needs rather than reacting to the problems of today. Australia should be proud of their efforts and achievements so far."
Deirdre Diamante, Co-founder of #TechDiversity & Mia Consulting, is sponsoring the team's journey in the SpaceX competition.
“At a diversity level, VicHyper are highlighting the importance of diversity in technology," Diamante said.
"Maria Pandelidi, as a female aerospace engineering student in a heavily male-dominated industry, along with the other young women in the team, stand as role models for young women, showing what’s possible with a career in STEM. This is something very close to my heart.”
David Connellan, Commercial Sales Director, Lenovo ANZ, said his company was proud to have supplied the team with the technology needed to turn the pod concept into virtual reality.
“As a company with innovation at its core, Lenovo is constantly looking to support our world’s future leaders in STEM, such as these RMIT students,” he said.
Story: Grace Wearne, Emily Curran