The Cooper Hyperloop
Article written by: Irisa Llana AR’21
Cooper Union engineering and architecture students have joined forces to design a pod to compete the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. This competition opened in 2015, and it invites students from all over the world to design the fastest pod. It takes place in SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, where the pod prototypes travel in the 1 mile vacuum tube built by SpaceX.
Our team consists of 25 students, majoring in mechanical, civil, electrical and chemical engineering, as well as in architecture. Founded in January by Boray Toktay (CE ‘19) and Irisa Llana (Ar ‘21), the team is divided into 5 subsystems: acceleration, brakes, stability, electronics and frame.
If you are wondering what the hyperloop is, you’re not alone. This concept was proposed by Elon Musk just a few years ago, and it is a sealed tube through which a pod may travel free of air resistance, transporting people at high speed. It is expected to become the fifth mode of transportation, after land, sea, air and space- and also the most efficient. Such a transportation system could cut down travel time by at least 5 times, making it a reality to travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in just 30 minutes. This could translate to a more accessible world, reshaping our views of proximity.
To make the Cooper Hyperloop pod a reality, our team needs your financial support. Our fundraising goal of $35,000 is needed to buy the necessary materials and conduct testing. Even though it is a large undertaking, we are confident that with our design and your support our pod will get built and race at SpaceX. Please follow our facebook page, @cooperhyperloop, and consider donating at support.cooper.edu/hyperloop .
July 17 Update:
Since it’s first meeting in January 2018, Cooper Hyperloop Team has made significant progress in the brakes, stability, frame and electronics subsystem designs (above picture). The brakes team have completed the design and moved onto the construction of a test bed for brake and stability system tests. The final breaks designs consists of two parts; the eddy current brakes, and emergency friction breaks. Both sets of brakes are activated using an onboard pneumatics system with a compressed air tank, and are controlled with two sets of electrically isolated controllers for redundancy. Breaks team is currently working with alumni on final design reviews.
The stability team has also completed their designs. The system consists of two rail guides placed at the very front and the very back of the vehicle. The guides are lined with skid material and are embedded with neodymium magnets. As the vehicle speeds up, the magnets, which are correctly aligned with the rail, continuously push the guides away from the rail in all directions due to eddy currents. The system also contains shock absorbers tuned to critically dampen any unexpected side motions.
Lastly, the electronics team, subdivided into controls and safety subteams, has also made significant design progress. For redundancy, the safety controller is electrically isolated from the main controls systems. The safety subteam has custom designed a controller that initiates an emergency break sequence upon detection of any anomaly. The vehicle contains more than 20 sensors just for the anomaly detection. The vehicle controls, on the other hand, are done using a combination of Raspberry Pi’s and Arduino’s tasked with acceleration, breaking, telemetry and power management.
Looking ahead, the main items on the team’s agenda are completing acceleration, power and airframe system designs. The team is due to submit developed conceptual designs to SpaceX by end of October 2018, and present completed designs in January 2019. With our alumni support, we will be able to test and build the Cooper Pod in time. Please go to support.cooper.edu/givehyperloop to make our goal a reality.