AZLoop, a team made up of about 60 Arizona State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students, competed in the SpaceX Hyperloop challenge this July after an impressive top eight finish last summer. The team bowed of the competition early this time around before testing its pod on the track due to safety concerns.
SpaceX held its third competition this year, which challenges teams to create the fastest functioning pods that could operate on the SpaceX Hyperloop, a theoretical high-speed transportation system that would, for example, cut down the trip from Phoenix to San Diego to only 30 minutes.
This year the competition focused on speed, and according to the Phoenix Business Journal, the AZLoop team watched some teams destroy their systems using a motor controller similar to the one the team was about to use but hadn’t tested. Team captain Josh Bowen made the call to bow out and focus on returning next year with less uncertainty.
AZLoop has an advantage that many teams don’t – having access to a test track replica of the SpaceX version on ASU’s Polytechnic campus – but due to parts arriving late and the inability to test them in time, that track could not help them get ahead.
AZLoop began working on this year’s pod immediately after its top eight finish last summer and was chosen as one of the 20 international finalists earlier this year. Some improvements to the $52,000 pod included “a lighter chassis, a new driven-wheel propulsion system and a revamped braking system similar to that of a car,” according to the Phoenix Business Journal.
Bowen said in the Journal that he is happy to hand the reins off to another student now that he has graduated. Because the pod they created this year is scalable, it can be easily prepared for next year’s effort, he said, so the team is optimistic about a possible win.