Waterloop team feels the need for speed

Monday, December 18, 2017

Waterloop students at Hyperloop competition last August.The Waterloop team is on its way to building a faster, lighter and more sophisticated pod. So fast, they estimate passengers could one day travel from Waterloo to Toronto in a mere six minutes.

Having formerly used a levitation system that would allow the pod to travel completely frictionless, the student design team has moved to a different method to enhance speed.

“We used to use the magnetic wheels for propulsion mainly, but now we’re going to be using friction propulsion, which is going to be a really big modification that will take us to a speed of 300 kilometres per hour and beyond,” said Ruslan Nikolaev, a third-year computer science student and Waterloop’s software lead.

It takes innovative minds from a variety of academic backgrounds to make the concept work. Waterloop is comprised of 90 students from all six faculties within the University.

“Practically all of us are doing it alongside our studies, Masters or co-op terms,” said Nicholas Jelich, a Science and Business student who is Waterloop’s sponsorship lead. “I could not have asked for a better team. All of us are incredibly experienced from very diverse backgrounds, both academically and just in general from a personality perspective.”

The internal workings of the Goose II pod.Even with busy student schedules, the team finds time to remain competitive at international competitions. In August 2017, Waterloop was one of 24 teams selected from 3,000 submissions to compete in the Hyperloop competition sponsored by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. With the 2018 summer races around the corner, Waterloop hopes to race again, breaking down their GOOSE II model in preparation to build GOOSE III, a faster, more efficient product that will reach subsonic speeds. The whole process starts in January.

“A lot of what we’re going to be doing is cannibalizing our old pod and rebuilding it from scratch,” said Jelich. “What we’re going to be looking for is a test facility this coming January with some sort of large test track so we can do high-speed testing. We’re looking forward to going maybe about 300 kilometres per hour if not faster.”

Sandra Banks, vice-president university relations, was an early supporter of the team and remains committed to supporting student ventures both from an advisory and promotional capacity.

“We are proud of all our student design teams that compete nationally and internationally,” said Banks. “Waterloop shines as a beacon for the University because the team represents all faculties and showcases its ambition to invent the future of transit on a world stage.”

People who want to support Waterloop can visit their donation or website’s contact page and be connected with one of their members. The team is looking for cash donations and industry professionals willing to share expertise as they build a pod that could cost $250,000.

“Having industry sponsors who are able to share their expertise would be really beneficial,” said Nikolaev. “We also still need sponsors to help us fund the team overall.”

This story by Natalie Quinlan of the University Communications team originally appeared in the Daily Bulletin on Monday, December 18, 2017