From 16th to 22th of July, the DH02 team was in California for the final moment of our year, the SpaceX Pod competition. The team came across a lot of obstacles. The first setback came with the battery, which was not delivered in time. The night before the start of the competition, the team worked hard on the finishing touches and packing of the Pod, tools, and spare parts. The first day of the competition was marked by many conversations with SpaceX about the general safety and the safety of our Pod and procedures. The first safety checks were almost all approved.
The next day we were the first team to have completed three tests, namely the structural inspection, battery inspection, and mechanical fit check. Two days later a few team members worked until deep in the night to improve our software and electronics after a few setbacks we had that day. The day after, the navigation, state diagram transition tests were successfully completed, but due to unforeseen issues with our motor, we were not able to get our wheel spinning and therefore complete the external sub track test. The next day we tried and failed to do an external sub track test. We once again decided to work throughout the night.
After that we thought all hope was lost. The motor wasn't working, and the last Hercules board (the brain of our pod) had short-circuited deeming it useless. We spend hours to find a replacing part, with no luck. But suddenly, we found one extra spare Hercules board, and hope returned! We raced to SpaceX to solve the other issues, because we were still hugely lagging behind the competition. We had only one day to fix our motor issues, do a vacuum test, an external track test and an open-air Hyperloop test. But luck was on our side, and we completed all tests flawlessly. At 11PM, all we had to do was the last test before the finals: the open-air Hyperloop track test. After two successful open-air Hyperloop runs, we heard that we were admitted to the finals! The relief was enormous, and we were so glad we made it!
After a long and nerve-wrecking testing week, the grand moment finally came; the Hyperloop finals! We had the opportunity to open the Hyperloop event with our run. The first time we got no response from the vehicle. Fortunately, the second attempt was a go! The speedometer quickly ran to 100km/h on a distance of roughly 150m. We had set our system to 450 km/h, so right on track! Unfortunately, due to an overheated motor controller (80 degrees Celsius), the threshold value was reached, and the pod was brought to a standstill after reaching a top speed of 142 km/h. Mixed feelings within the team! We really would have wanted to see the full potential of our vehicle, but on the other hand we were already so happy we were able to run!
The EPF Loop team from Lausanne, Switzerland, was allowed next in the tube. During the run, they were running at a top speed of 88 km/h. Last but not least, it was the turn of WARR Hyperloop, the winner of last year. They did not disappoint the crowd, with a top speed (and world record) of 467 km/h, their run was very spectacular to see!
The man behind Tesla, SpaceX, and of course the competition, stopped by the best teams, among which ours! Elon Musk said to be very inspired by our team's enthusiasm and was intrigued by our passenger module. He actually signed the inside of the passenger module and took a picture with us.
Our adventure is over. It has been an amazing year in which we learned so much, that it cannot be described through words. Now, it is time for a new team to experience this exhausting, but rewarding, rollercoaster. The new DH03 team has been selected and they have already started. We wish them good luck and hopefully, they will continue our success even more by winning next year's competition.