On January 23rd, second-year mechanical engineering students faced off in the Hyperloop Rail Challenge, racing their autonomous vehicles around a course with twists, turns and steep grades. This is the first of two design challenges meant to harness their academic learning in practical problem solving of a real-world issue.
According to Mech 2 Coordinator, Dr. Agnes d’Entremont, one of the biggest challenges faced in the development of hyperloop transportation – super fast and energy-efficient transit through a low-friction environment – is that even minor track defects could have devastating impacts at such high speeds. Vehicles in these transportation systems would need to be able to adjust to changes in their track in order to avoid catastrophic derailments or collisions.
Faced with solving this problem, the second-year teams were judged not only on speed while successfully completing the course, but energy efficiency as well – speed was scored against the number of batteries used in order to mimic the hyperloop premise. Teams’ approaches varied: some vehicles took a slow-but-steady route, confidently taking on the turns and hills of the course at the cost of time, while others careened around the track, occasionally resulting in dramatic derailments. The crowd of students in the bleachers surrounding the course enthusiastically cheered on all contenders, often favouring the underdogs that struggled to take an obstacle before finally succeeding. The final round (nicknamed the “mayhem round”) involved groups of teams coordinating their cars to simultaneously take the track without colliding.
The winning vehicle, “The Jewel” had a decisive lead with a score of 97.1, while second place went to Team B3 at a score of 79.0, and “The 1180 Express” took third place with a score of 73.7.
The second-year teams will get another chance to test their mettle in their final design challenge, on April 16th. Stay tuned for further event details and coverage!
Breakfast Television: https://twitter.com/BT_Vancouver/status/1088478504570646529
Fairchild TV: https://www.fairchildtv.com/english/news.php?n=5e2fd81c8c08b9638bfc5b4d8459b499