Berkeley Hyperloop Team Prepares for 2019 Competition
Tom Spendlove posted on January 28, 2019 |

The Berkeley Hyperloop team has one main goal - transport between Los Angeles and San Francisco in a time around 29 minutes. The fourth SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition is scheduled for Summer 2019 in Hawthorne, Los Angeles. The team is raising part of their $40,000 annual budget through a Kickstarter campaign.

Berkeley Hyperloop works to create their pod following their three guiding principles - safety, security, and social responsibility. Graduate and undergraduate students work together with faculty and industry mentors to create a scaled down version of a Hyperloop Pod and test is against colleges and universities from around the world. The team sent their Preliminary Design Briefing to SpaceX in November and is now readying their pod for the 2019 competition.

The design briefing focuses on changes from the previous iteration; friction braking instead of Eddy current braking, aluminum core wheels using polyurethane tread replacing the previous pneumatic wheels, and a new profile for their carbon fiber shell. The briefing also discusses progress in the areas of manufacturing, design validation, and testing plans for the chassis, suspension and propulsion systems. Power requirements for the pod mostly focus on the propulsion system, with each motor needing 48 Volts at 200 Amperes for approximately 12 seconds, creating the need for approximately 80 kiloWatts at peak power. Braking will require 2 kiloWatts and the electronics on board need 30 Watts. A National Instruments cRIO-9066 controller is the primary controller working with speed, position, pressure, accelerometer, LED, and radio communication sensors along with motor controllers to monitor the pod during its flight tests.

Berkeley's Hyperloop Pod design is fascinating as an engineering project, and it's great ot see the detail built into their design briefing. My favorite part might be the control state diagram - after powering on and doing the pre-launch work the system accelerates, then coasts until almost reaching its destination, then brakes, then crawls to the end of its flight. I'm certain that's a simplification of a complex process but provides a great look at how the team thinks their system will someday behave during normal operation. The group's Kickstarter campaign ends on January 31, 2019.

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