In this instalment of Edinburgh University’s HYPED team diary, Anirudh Vasudevan dives into the detail of their second prototype pod – the carriage that will, they hope, ultimately hold passengers.
Trying to achieve high-speed travel in a confined space that is both comfortable and safe is our overriding aim. Our first prototype pod – Poddy McPodface – took us all the way to California and the SpaceX competition in August 2017. We learned so much during this phase, and building on the insights from this event meant that we could begin to design our next prototype pod, named Poddy the Second. But how does something this technologically advanced come about and what have been some of the challenges we’ve encountered along the way?
We split into five sub-teams to develop Poddy the Second, designed to look at each of the factors that will make Poddy the fastest, safest and best pod in the world. We have teams looking at dynamics, power, software, static and simulations. Our ambitions are lofty but our sense of determination to answer the engineering challenges is loftier!
Each team started by listing their aspirations for the future design including magnetic propulsion, carbon fibre structure, pressurised passenger cabin, emergency braking and a whole list of technological items that are must-haves in our new design.
For the Power team, this meant looking at propulsion and control electronics. The Static team’s role was to decide on appropriate materials choice so that the passenger is comfortable on their journey. The Dynamics team was responsible for all moving parts such as the stability of the pod and the all-important braking systems. The Software team had the role of designing sophisticated navigational algorithms using data captured by sensors, along with looking at motor-control systems. And finally, the Simulations team challenged the Static and Dynamics teams’ assumptions, making sure that their designs are suitable for the competition.
Once we had our Poddy the Second prototype we had to ship it 5,000 miles across the Atlantic and after ten months of hard work, tenacity and more than a few false starts, Poddy the Second was finally in place to start the SpaceX tests. We had arrived!
Read more about Poddy the Second and its journey to California for the 2018 SpaceX competition on the website of HYPED sponsor, RS Components.