Our short bio: Nine months ago, Elon Musk announced that SpaceX would be holding a competition where teams would compete to design the best hyperloop pod. We redditors took up the challenge, along with ~1,200 other teams.

Our crowdsourced design group, rLoop, won best non-student design and is now one of only 30 teams which will advance to the final round, where we will build and race our pod on a 1-mile test track at SpaceX HQ this summer! We would like to thank the reddit community for their incredible support!

The success of our open-source collaborative online think tank model has been fascinating, and has garnered some media attention, recently from Forbes, and even the front page of reddit!. We see the internet as a tool for empowering humanity, and we hope to show people what can be accomplished when an online community comes together to help solve the world's most exciting challenges.

More information about rLoop.

With us today are:

/u/beltenebros, Project Manager

/u/zarok, Engineering Lead

/u/-Richard, PR Lead

/u/ButtMonkey1120, Engineering/Manufacturing

And more team members to come! I'll post their usernames here when they stop by.

Ask us anything!

My Proof: Pic of hyperloop badge next to username. See my posting history for further proof.

Comments: 129 • Responses: 8  • Date: 

Senno_Ecto_Gammat31 karma

1 - What kind of acceleration does the pod have with the gimballed magnets?

2 - Is this more a proof of concept thing you guys are building, or is it meant to take into consideration everything needed for an operational system? For instance, safety: will the braking power of the magnets be enough for emergencies or is another system required?

If you are looking for a way to perform emergency braking, can I suggest rapid normalization of the pressure in the tube? That should do the job.

3 - How much time have you spent thinking about the application of hyperloop on Mars, and what have you come up with?

4 - Robert Goddard, father of rocketry, patented a vacuum tube transportation system (PDF link here). To what extent do you think his work inspired Musk, who is also involved in rocketry?

DieselOrWorthless13 karma

Man you typed all that in 15 seconds?

Senno_Ecto_Gammat22 karma

No, I typed it earlier today, and have been hitting refresh for about 5 minutes, so that all I had to do was type ctrl+v when I saw the post.

-Richard25 karma

I like your dedication! :)

-Richard11 karma

1 and 2. /u/zarok, these ones are all yours, my friend.

(3) I don't see there being a hyperloop on Mars at any time in the foreseeable future. The kind of infrastructure that a Mars colony would need to have before they're able to build hyperloops seems to be well beyond what we can hope to see in our lifetimes. I sincerely hope that I will be proven wrong about this, though. Another thing is that with Mars, you've got a low-pressure atmosphere to begin with, so a hyperloop wouldn't have much of an advantage over a pressurized maglev train, so the additional costs likely wouldn't be justified. The temperature on Mars also oscillates wildly (imagine a desert x10), so the thermal stresses/expansion problem is going to be more severe there than it is here on earth.

(4) I wouldn't be surprised at all if this inspired Musk's hyperloop idea. Before Elon laid out his idea for the hyperloop, I had seen a number of similar concepts out there. The futuristic ingenuity of the hyperloop idea isn't in the broad concept itself, but rather in working around the tricky details that are currently preventing this from being built.

Edit: Brent and Tom just pointed out that Elon called out Goddard's idea in the hyperloop alpha paper.

drock_davis12 karma

Are you guys still going forward with the arxpax hoverboard tech?

For me personally, that was my main reason for leaving/not really getting into the project as it doesn't seem feasible to create a track/pod around this techonology on the scale we're talking about. Not to mention all of the reliability and 'robustness' issues around integrating prototype tech into something pre-preproduction, regardless of scale.

-Richard4 karma

We are. For our design, air bearings would have only given us a clearance of a few microns off the track, which would work in theory, but is too tight to account for imperfections. So we're going with the arxpax, which are able to give us more clearance, and are preferable in a few other ways as well. Tom, can you elaborate a bit on this?

prongs955 karma

So this one is mainly directed at the engineers, but how did you get into engineering? What advice do you have for <18 people who want to get into engineering?

-Richard5 karma

I'm just the PR guy for rLoop, so we will have some of our other team members respond to this question as well. But outside of rLoop I am a fourth-year engineering student, so I might be able to give an insightful answer.

The main reason I got into engineering at first was because it seemed like a lucrative field that requires mathematical thinking, which is something I've always enjoyed. For me, going into engineering was a choice driven more by pragmatism than passion, and I looked forward to making a solid salary doing the kind of work that guys like me have an easy time with.

That said, I have been extremely pleasantly surprised by the universal beauty and elegance of the engineering concepts that I have learned about so far, particularly the physical concepts. I also love the power of engineering, and the potential it provides for ushering in a brighter future. I'm a huge fan of Elon Musk, and I love following the accomplishments of his companies, and of other companies which are pushing the limits of what our species can do.

My advice to you would be to let your passions influence you, but follow your strengths. If you're mathematically inclined and you have a curiosity about the physical world, then engineering is probably for you. Get good grades, submit good applications to your top schools, and get ready for lots of learning!

One thing that I should warn you about, though:

Mechanical engineering provides a good background in a wide range of STEM concepts, and I was drawn in the physics direction, so a couple years ago I decided to dabble a bit in materials science... and after having my intuitive worldview torn to shreds, the world seems like a much different place than it did before. I expect to have my master's in a year, and by that time I hope to have developed the cognitive dissonance required to understand how reality works without thinking about it too much. In the meantime, though, it's nearly impossible to do any kind of studying without entering an addictingly unpleasant existential state.

But if you don't mind seeing galaxies in everyday objects, and everyday objects in galaxies, I can highly recommend considering materials science in addition to engineering. It's another one of those lucrative mathematical fields, and there's a ton of cutting edge research going on right now.

dotnetdotcomdot5 karma

Hi! Thank you for working on this amazing project that seemed psychotic when I first heard of it, then I came around once I read Elon's paper on it.

Will there be seats with seatbelts? Or open seats and standing room? Will there be pods for vehicle transportation? One of the reasons I don't take long distance trains is I have to get to the station then leave the station in something (taxi, uber, rental car), and that something gets pricey and time consuming. Will there be zip cars, or similar, incorporated into this transportation 'system'?

For stops mid-route the pod goes off into another small loop so the main loop stays open for through traffic. How do you seal air between these loops? Or do you not need to?

Can you please make it nice? All public transportation makes me feel like dirty herd animal.

-Richard4 karma

Good questions! At this point in time, work on the hyperloop concept is still in the R&D phase, geared towards bridging the gap between theory and reality, so it's a bit too soon to know specifically what the actual hyperloop will be like. rLoop, and the other teams in the competition, are working towards building working proof-of-concept prototypes. We hope that our pod will reach a high speed and prove that the hyperloop concept can work.

As far as mid-route stops are concerned, I see the hyperloop as being more of a point A to point B kind of system, e.g. SF to LA. It could work well for longer, frequently traveled routes, the kind of routes where you'd rather fly than drive, if flying weren't so expensive and inconvenient.

I definitely agree about public transportation! Too crowded.

Entrepreneutralizer4 karma

How likely would you think the chance of success is?

-Richard3 karma

At this point, I think we have a good chance of success. After seeing all the work that the team has put into the project over the past nine months, winning an award from SpaceX, outcompeting all of the other non-student teams, and watching reddit rally behind us yesterday, I'm convinced that we have what it takes to succeed at the final competition event.

tedlasman3 karma

What happened yesterday?

-Richard11 karma

This post was #1 on reddit for a few hours, and on the front page for ~12 hours. We gained a ton of support and have raised $15k since yesterday!

kstarr123 karma

What are each of your team members backgrounds? What were you guys doing before this project?

-Richard4 karma

We have team members from all around the world, with various backgrounds. Most of our team members are engineering students and young professionals, and we also have people on our team who work in graphic design, film making, etc. Part of rLoop's mission is to provide the reddit community with the opportunity to get involved in the SpaceX hyperloop competition, regardless of their background or skillset. Our more knowledgeable and experienced members teach us as we go, and it has been a fantastic educational experience for many of us.

Personally, I'm a fourth year student in mechanical engineering and materials science at UCSB.