In 2016, SpaceX developed a one-mile test track and CEO Elon Musk launched a worldwide challenge for student engineering teams to build pod vehicles to race on that track, to test out the concept for a new mode of transport he had proposed, called the Hyperloop. A small group of undergraduate students from BITS Pilani decided to take up Musk’s challenge and build team Hyperloop India, which after multiple rounds and design reviews, is the first and only team from India, and among the two from Asia, selected to build and race their pod on the SpaceX track in August 2017.
The team’s plan is to leverage its performance in global incentive prize competitions to create a nationalistic competitive impulse to bring high-speed transport systems like the Hyperloop to the country, via a three-fold game plan – Design, Plan & Implement:
- Design: To design and manufacture India’s first indigenously built safe, scalable and feasible Hyperloop pod prototype for the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition.
- Plan: To formulate an economic, transport, legal and policy case study for such technology to be deployed in the country, along with RITES and Hyperloop One.
- Implement: To engage and create an ecosystem of stakeholders in India with the willpower to advance, appraise, approve and regulate the advent of the Hyperloop in India.
In mid-March, Hyperloop India reached out for support from us–Workbench Projects, a makerspace FabLab, or public laboratory in Bangalore. We have housed their team for three months to prototype their pod at our facility, and are impressed by the thorough work and dedication of their multi-disciplinary team from varied backgrounds and campuses across the nation.
We have been their co-creation partners since then and have successfully managed to pool in all the support that we can in kind as a young startup. From bringing on board the Karnataka state government, providing assistance in soliciting several departments’ support, identifying senior project mentors, helping with customs clearances, material procurement, fabrication partners, and logistics for the pod and the team, and helping with marketing and fundraising, as well as meeting budgetary requirements of this project, we have not left any stone unturned for this project to succeed.
India and the world stand a chance to witness the prowess of frugal engineering from a student team in India, as we prepare to roll out India’s first Hyperloop project. The OrcaPod, one of its kind, will be amongst the lightest and the fastest pods that will blaze the track built by SpaceX at its HQ in California.
Visit Hyperloop India’s website to learn more about the project and design.
Anupama Gowda is Co-Founder and CCO of Workbench Projects. Trained in the arts, she served as an arts educator for nearly a decade. Committed to education and empowerment in the developmental sector, she keeps the work of WP grounded to its vision, “To put the power of innovation in every hand.” She has been a recipient of the Charles Wallace India Award, UK and Fellow at ARThink South Asia, GI/MMB, Delhi-Germany. She is also a beneficiary of MIT Media Lab, India Initiative workshop under their “Creative Learning” track.