Amid much fanfare, University of Wisconsin engineering students unveiled their HyperLoop pod model at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Tuesday.

BadgerLoop team leads will head to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California to test their model hyperloop pod on a two mile track against other teams in the next pod competition in January.

Cadence Bambenek/The Badger Herald

After a brief introduction by Ian Robertson, dean of the College of Engineering, the president of BadgerLoop, David Van Veen, gave a brief overview of BadgerLoop itself before the pod was unveiled, with coordinated lights, music and promotional video package.

Last January, the University of Wisconsin’s BadgerLoop team placed third out of 120 teams at Texas A&M University’s Design Weekend.

This time, Claire Holesovsky, a member of the operations team, said they’re looking to blow the competition out of the water.

BadgerLoop team prepares for next steps after success in TexasAfter placing third at Texas A&M University’s Design Weekend in January, University of Wisconsin’s BadgerLoop team hopes to take their Read…

Composed predominantly of UW engineering students, the team has spent the last 11 months refining their pod design, preparing it to be sent down the low pressured, carbon steel tube of the proposed next high-speed transportation system.

Alec Fisher, a member of the dynamics modeling teams, said the BadgerLoop pod is the only one in the running with a propulsion system. The other pods are simply relying on a launching mechanism within the HyperLoop tube itself to make it down the two mile track.

“But that’s not scaleable and that’s not fun,” Fisher said.

Cadence Bambenek/The Badger Herald

Jonah Pelfrey, a member of the software team, said he thinks he and many of his team members came into this naively. Some of them initially thought they would go through this competition and the HyperLoop would be a reality in two years. But now they realize this probably won’t exist for 20 years.

There’s too many safety considerations to address before HyperLoop may be commercially viable, he said.

And so, new teams have been added to BadgerLoop to start addressing some of the next steps that will come between today and the actual realization of the HyperLoop transportation system some years from now.

Van Veen noted that one of the greatest challenges yet to overcome to achieving HyperLoop is entirely psychological.

To help people feel comfortable with the idea of voluntarily hurtling their bodies at incredible speeds down a windowless steel tube, a team of students began developing a virtual reality component to their HyperLoop pod design.

One of the initial iterations utilizes Google Cardboard to allow a visual animated comparison of the potential speed of the HyperLoop as compared to current means of transportation, including cars, trains and planes, said team member Spencer Fricke.

Cadence Bambenek/The Badger Herald

Madison to compete for $50 million Smart Cities grantThe city of Madison is competing for $50 million in federal grant money through the Smart Cities Initiative. The grant Read…

Another team is responsible for feasibility and is looking to make the bridge between the train systems in existence now while also incorporating HyperLoop technology currently being developed.

Justin Schrimmer, a senior studying electrical engineering, pointed to the BadgerLoop’s Halbach wheel as one example.

“We’re working on projects that the entire world will be able to see and explore,” Schrimmer said.

While it’s gratifying to work on class projects for professors, Schrimmer said BadgerLoop is incredible because the work is being seen by so many people at such a young age.

Johnny Kohlbeck, sophomore in the School of Business and member of the feasibility team, said BadgerLoop has been an incredible learning opportunity, exposing him to both real players in major transportation industries and teaching him how to engage with engineers on incredibly technical projects.

“Getting a say as a sophomore in the future of this technology is an absolutely incredible experience,” Kohlbeck said.