The MSP was keen to find out more about HYPED’s work to bring the ‘hyperloop’ concept of mass high-speed transportation closer to reality, after they recently became the only UK-based team to reach the finals of the international SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019, taking place in California this summer.
Conceived by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, ‘hyperloop’ is a method of mass transportation based on electrically propelled pods which can travel through near-vacuum tubes at speeds comparable to aircraft. If commercialised, the technology would potentially see a journey such as Edinburgh to London shortened to 50 minutes.
During his visit, the Minister was hosted in the HYPED workshop by team members Mac Versey (President), Maisie Mowforth-Edwards (Head of Static), Daniel Carbonell (Technical Director) and Hamish Geddes, where they showcased their most recent hyperloop pod prototype ‘Poddy the Second’.
The Minister heard more about the innovative engineering methods and materials which lie behind the pod’s construction including the use of a ‘halbach wheel’ propulsion system, carbon fibre composite chassis, and a pressurised interior to sustain the high speeds reached during transit.
Mr Lochhead was particularly interested to hear more about HYPED’s public outreach activities in local schools and communities to inspire younger people from all backgrounds to study STEM subjects.
The team explained that their ability to draw on a diverse, international pool of talent, alongside freedom to collaborate with European companies, was key to their success in competing with the best hyperloop teams in the world.
Scotland on the global stage
The Minister commented: “The success of the HYPED team in reaching the finals of the international SpaceX Hyperloop competition is proof of the engineering talent that earned Scotland our reputation as an innovative nation on the global stage.
“Their efforts, alongside those of the teams from Glasgow, Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde Universities who are also developing Hyperloop transportation pods, will be an inspiration to future generations of Scots to pursue education, training and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.”
During the visit, the Minister also toured the Engineering 150 timeline in Sanderson corridor alongside Head of School Conchúr Ó Brádaigh to gain an insight into the School’s history of innovation since the late 18th century, and visited the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility to learn more about the facility's role in the burgeoning Scottish offshore renewables sector.