Badgerloop, a team of mostly UW-Madison undergraduate engineering students, won an innovation award at last weekend’s SpaceX Hyperloop competition in California.
Badgerloop began after SpaceX released a student Hyperloop competition with hopes to accelerate the implementation of Elon Musk’s idea of futuristic high-speed transportation. After this weekend, the future just become a little closer.
After placing third in last January’s design weekend, Badgerloop had high hopes for this January’s competition weekend. While mechanical and electrical system issues prevented the team from testing their pod on the mile-long tube-like test track in CA, Badgerloop team members are still proud of their work constructing the 15-foot-long, 2,100-pound carbon fiber covered pod that won them the innovation award.
“Ultimately our pod was very complex … when it came down to it, time just wasn’t on our side,” Claire Holesovsky, Badgerloop’s operations director, said. “We weren’t upset about anything at all. We were just happy to be down there and working in the sunshine on our pod,” she added.
Out of the 27 teams that competed, only three were able to test their pods on the actual track, demonstrating the complexity and difficulty of the hyperloop concept. Hyperloop transportation involves an above-ground vacuum tube-like track in which travelers sit in a levitating pod, which in turn, allows pods the capability to travel at speed up to 780 mph.
Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands was the overall winner of the competition, while the Technical University of Munich achieved the fastest speed. The only team made up of only undergraduates, Badgerloop took home the innovation award.
“I think the innovation award was a perfect award for Badgerloop … because we always say how this technology is going to revolutionize transportation,” Holesovsky said. “In my mind, the innovation award is the most creative, the most well-thought-out pod, the one that brings something new to the table,” she added, noting that the award highlighted Badgerloop’s virtual reality technology.
The team specifically built their pod to fit Musk, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall, which garnered them special attention at SpaceX headquarters.
“Elon Musk sat in our pod … He was kind of our ambition and drive from the start … The fact that it kind of came full circle, it was kind of a surreal feeling,” Holesovsky added.
Although they couldn’t run their pod on the track, Holesovsky said the team remained proud of their hard work and explained the student organization will continue on with the next generation of student engineers.
As SpaceX announced the next round of their Hyperloop pod competition, set for this August, Holeovsky said Badgerloop will be there.