A team of Indian science whiz shone brightly in this year’s European Hyperloop Week (EHW), a prestigious annual international event that brings together university students, guest speakers, and companies to discuss Hyperloop technology, its feasibility and scalability. Despite stiff competition, the ingenious group of 50 students from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) Students' Hyperloop Team Avishkar emerged among the top three teams globally in several technical categories, showcasing their extensive research and innovative designs. Notably, they were the only non-European team to be nominated in several award categories, underscoring the exceptional caliber of their work. Their success at the EHW 2023 follows after the team won the 'Most Scalable Design' award at the EHW 2021 and emerged among the Global top five in the Traction Systems, Electrical Systems and Complete Pod categories in the European Hyperloop Week 2022 held in the Netherlands.
Prof. Satya Chakravarthy, Faculty Advisor, Avishkar Hyperloop, IIT Madras
Their global achievement came to the Indian limelight when India's Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, appreciated the ingenuity of these students for their revolutionary work on a prototype of a futuristic Hyperloop travel project. In a tweet on X (formerly known as Twitter), FM Sitharaman congratulated the IIT Madras team, stating, "Congratulations! Interesting. Wishing you all success in your future endeavors too."
But what exactly is Hyperloop and how has Team Avishkar’s project positioned them as pioneers in revolutionizing how we conceive transportation? Hyperloop technology, conceptualized by Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk, envisions a high-speed transportation system where passenger pods travel within a tube under partial vacuum conditions, enabling rapid transportation between destinations. The reduced air resistance within the tube allows the pods to reach incredibly high speeds, potentially up to 1,200 km/h, through magnetic propulsion. That means it can easily overtake airplanes making it the undisputed contender for the fastest mode of commuting on the planet.
The cost of Hyperloop travel may raise concerns about affordability seeing as to how airplanes, the current fastest mode of transportation, are quite expensive. However, contrary to expectations, Hyperloop travel is projected to be more cost-effective due to solid scientific principles. All four current modes of transportations face challenges related to friction and air pressure, leading to high fuel consumption and limited speed. In contrast, the Hyperloop operates within a near-vacuum environment, reducing air resistance and energy expenditure. Additionally, the implementation of magnetic levitation principles enables the capsule to levitate and travel at high speeds. By utilizing magnetic repulsion between the capsule and the track, the Hyperloop system minimizes friction and achieves efficient, rapid transportation.
The Avishkar Hyperloop team's prototype pod, named 'Garuda,' showcased its potential to transform the future of transportation in India. The prototype is proof of concept of the fifth mode of transportation and represents a significant leap forward in developing sustainable and efficient transportation technologies. In EHW 2023 they unveiled their plans for a 350 km-long Hyperloop corridor between Chennai and Bangalore. On paper, it can bring the travel time from Bangalore to Chennai in 30 minutes.
Furthermore, the team's success has garnered them support and funding from various stakeholders, including the Government of India, and industry partners like Tube Investments of India and L&T Construction. Their vision for the future includes the development of India's first Hyperloop corridor within the next two decades, with ongoing construction of a Hyperloop test facility at IIT Madras marking the first step towards this ambitious goal.
Medha Kommajosyula, the student team lead of the 'Avishkar Hyperloop' project
Yesterday’s science fiction is today’s reality. The statement rings true thanks to the bright minds of Team Avishkar. We congratulate them heartily for their dedication, innovative prowess and for the country’s advancement of science and technology.
Watch a short documentary below where Team Avishkar walks you through the steps of them developing their Hyperloop project:
Find out more about Team Avishkar here.