Science

Badgerloop unveils pod, exposes public to Hyperloop transportation

Badgerloop, a UW-Madison student organization, revealed their pod Tuesday that will compete in Hawthorne, California in January 2017 at SpaceX's Hyperloop Pod Competition.

Image By: Julie Spitzer

The Badgerloop team revealed their pod Tuesday for the first time at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery to eager transportation enthusiasts, including University of Wisconsin-Madison students, industry sponsors and community members, in preparation for the SpaceX Hyperloop competition this coming January.

The free event featured multiple aspects of the transportation pod, including displays of its motor, software components and magnet arrays. Representatives from many of Badgerloop’s 19 teams displayed and explained their work on the prototype, demonstrating that Hyperloop is more than a transportation dream.

“The efforts of this team have extended past the realm of technical problem solving. We’ve created an educational environment that has grown to function much like a small start-up company,” Badgerloop President David Van Veen said.

Badgerloop is a student organization at UW-Madison that seeks to innovate transportation with Hyperloop, an idea presented by SpaceX and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk in 2013. Hyperloop transportation involves pod-like travel down a vacuum tube at high speeds.

Last January, Badgerloop placed third at Design Weekend, the initial phase of the Hyperloop pod competition sponsored by SpaceX. Badgerloop was the only team comprised primarily of undergraduate students.

In January of 2017, they will attend competition weekend at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California and test their pod on SpaceX’s mile long test track.

Cole Hess, a graduate student on Badgerloop’s industry relations team, believes the team will fair well at the competition. Badgerloop’s pod is not only the largest, but it is unique with it’s Halbach wheel technology, Hess said.

Halbach wheels employ a particular array of magnets, called a Halbach array, that allow for levitation and propulsion. This system increases the overall acceleration capabilities.

A member of Badgerloop’s battery team, Max Goldberg, explained that the pod has the potential to reach up to 200 mph, and it’s speed is only limited by the length of the test track.

Virtual reality technology, developed by Badgerloop’s Virtual Reality Team, was also available.

According to the Virtual Reality Team Lead Peter Procek, a senior studying computer engineering and computer science, the virtual reality experience helps ease tensions surrounding the Hyperloop technology.

“[The Bagerloop team] embodied both the Wisconsin Idea and the values of an engineer. [They] are using [their] knowledge and skills for the good of society,” said College of Engineering Dean Ian Roberston who spoke at the event. Robertson added that the Badgerloop team is contributing to a changing society, specifically developments in the transportation field.

Although Badgerloop is unable to test their pod until their are in California, Robertson is confident of the team’s work.

“Our students are bright problem solvers,” Robertson said. He added that he was proud that the idea was generated within the College of Engineering and driven by these students.

So far, only seven other teams have held public reveal events of their Hyperloop pods, Badgerloop’s Industry Relations Team Lead Kali Kinziger said.

“No matter where they finish in the actual competition, what they’ve actually achieved over the course of the last few years, and the effort they’ve put in, it’s truly remarkable. And we will always be proud of them,” Robertson said, although he predicted he would welcome the team home from the competition with a first place win. 

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