We are Illini Hyperloop, a fully undergraduate team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We have competed in the first and second SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competitions, and are developing for future competitions.
The Hyperloop is a proposed new mode of transportation based on the white paper released by Elon Musk in 2013. The idea quickly gained traction, and SpaceX announced that it would hold a Hyperloop Pod Competition, building a near-mile-long test track outside of their headquarters.
Illini Hyperloop formed after the announcement of the first competition. Pod 1 was designed to use active magnetic levitation along with friction brakes, taking advantage of the pusher provided by SpaceX.
Active magnetic levitation proved difficult to implement effectively, and the pod was unable to enter the Hyperloop Test Track during the first competition weekend. However, the team gained invaluable experience, setting the foundation for strong electronics and mechanical teams moving forward.
Building on the lessons learned from the first competition, Pod 2 was a complete redesign away from Pod 1. The second pod aimed to be simple with passive magnetic levitation and friction brakes as the only moving component on the pod. This pod was also designed to take advantage of the SpaceX provided pusher.
During the week leading up to competition weekend, the hydraulic brake system suffered from several problems, preventing the otherwise functioning pod from entering the Hyperloop Test Track.
With the announcement of the third competition and the requirement that all pods must have on-board propulsion, our team is using Pod 2 as a development platform for Pod 3. We are able to take advantage of a completed vehicle, using the same electronics and mechanical chassis, and modifying them as needed to add a propulsion system.