Only Asian team in the SpaceX contest is from IIT-M

The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras became the only Asian institute to send a team for the finals of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition to be held in July.

The 27-member team, Avishkar, is among the top 21 of the more than 1,600 teams participating globally in the 2019 edition of the competition, organised by Elon Musk, who runs the aerospace manufacturer and space transportation company.

The indigenously designed and developed, self-propelled, completely autonomous Hyperloop Pod is 30 metres long and weighs 120 kg. The pod is an attempt at coming up with technologies for future modes of high-speed transportation with applications in defence, logistics and aerospace industry.

S.R. Chakravarthy, professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering at IIT-M, said, “The team has been working since 2017 to develop the pod. It has taken strenuous technical efforts at every stage and been professional about executing the project.”

Battery operated

The battery-operated vehicle will run in a vacuum tube, travelling faster than the speed of sound. The concept will improve the speed of transportation, said Mr. Chakravarthy.

Suyash Singh, a second year M.Tech student in aerospace engineering and team leader, said the team prepared for two years. The team did not win the contest in 2018, following which it split into various groups and worked on each aspect of the pod.

The winner will be decided based on the speed achieved in running the pod in a mile-long vacuum tube at the SpaceX headquarters. To qualify to be among the top few teams, “the design has to go through a lot of checks and scrutiny based on its feasibility, manufacturing possibility and its safety aspects,” Mr. Singh said.

The institute is building a 30-meter long rail to test the pod before the contest.

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