In today’s post we give the floor to Juan Vicén, Cofounder and Communications Lead at Hyperloop UPV, who tells us first-hand about the experience of the team in the Hyperloop Pod Competition: a story of achievement, effort and commitment to contributing to the future of transportation.
After crossing the States, we finally arrived in Spain, safe and sound and in one piece! And finally, after a few days of excitement, we found the time to write about our experience in SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition II, the contest organised by Elon Musk to boost the development of a totally disruptive way of future transportation: the Hyperloop.
After one and a half years of hard work, we are really happy to have shared this incredible adventure with an amazing team, Hyperloop UPV.
When we first thought about building our own Hyperloop prototype, David Pistoni, Daniel Orient and myself had many concerns: we didn’t have a team, we didn’t have the resources nor the premises to work, plus… a tiny problem: each one of us was in one part of the world: Germany, Sweden, and Spain. We knew the way would be hard, but we finally decided to take on the challenge and start building.
From more than 300 applicants, we chose 30 of the top students at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and we started finding sponsor companies. I learnt a lot from this process because I had never asked anybody for support and, at that point, I had to ask top managers in companies to back my project. Believe me, it was challenging.
At the same time, the University gave us a place to work, something essential to connecting and creating a robust team (thanks!).
Once the team was set up, another great opportunity came through: a Spanish professor from Valencia working at Purdue, one of the best American Universities in the aerospace field, asked us to collaborate. Once more, we accepted the challenge and, despite living in very different time zones (6 hours ahead), on both shores of the Atlantic Ocean, with weekly meetings and a lot of patience, we started making progress and signed an agreement to participate in the competition together with our prototype: the Atlantic II.
During the development process, we understood the risks of dealing with a transatlantic team, especially during the assembly, when we had to put all subsystems together on site and make sure everything worked as expected. Obviously, not everything worked in the first try but we had to be ready for the competition.
All of a sudden, we became problem-solvers, bottleneck-removers, time-expanders… The last stage was the most challenging, but concentration allowed us to erase the line between night and day and have the prototype on time. It took a bit of suffering and several lots of students travelling to the US to assemble the prototype, but we finally made it! The Atlantic II, one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done in my life, was up and running.
Surprisingly, the prototype was one of the most powerful machines at the competition. When advisors first saw it, they looked all scared! But then we made all the safety tests and we started to get excited. Sadly the last one, the open-air test, didn’t work, which prevented our prototype from being tested in the official Hyperloop tube! Anyway, I must confess I cried tears of joy when I first saw the prototype moving. I couldn’t believe that what had first been envisioned as a dream on a blackboard, had now become a living piece of engineering, our first real creation, and it was actually working! We had made history! Goosebumps!
But, if there’s something I should say is: THANK YOU, guys, thanks to all of you, members of the team, because without you this adventure would not have been possible.
Hyperloop UPV has succeeded in bringing the spirit of Hyperloop to life, creating a unique prototype that is fully autonomous, 100% electric and vacuum-ready, and which hovers at high speeds thanks to passive levitation skis, always thinking of scalability.
We want to thank all partners in the project, especially the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Altran (Premium partner), ISTOBAL, MAHLE Nagares, and Purdue University, for helping us make this incredible adventure a reality. We believe we must keep pushing and breaking boundaries.
As a summary, I must say that this was one of the most amazing experiences in our lives: we travelled the States, we met incredible people, and we had the opportunity to do our bit as regards the future of transportation. These are exciting times and there’s only one thing for sure: we will never settle.
New challenges are ahead of us, and amazing things are yet to come. The next competition has already been announced and the team is already preparing its next prototype. You can support them by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile… Let’s just keep pushing, let’s be the future.
Juan Vicén, Cofounder and Communications Lead at Hyperloop UPV.