An exclusive interview with Avishkar Hyperloop's Pranit Mehta


14 Jun 2019

Interview with IIT team that will present Hyperloop-concept to Musk

Avishkar Hyperloop, a team from IIT-Madras, is set to represent India on world stage for the final round of the prestigious SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019 in July.

The fourth installment of the competition, sponsored by the Elon Musk-led aerospace company, will be held in Los Angeles.

In an exclusive interview with NewsBytes, Avishkar Hyperloop's Pranit Mehta talked about Hyperloop, the competition, and more!

Representing India

Not representing a team or institute, but a country: Pranit

Not representing a team or institute, but a country: Pranit

On Avishkar Hyperloop making it to the final round, Pranit said, "It is a great feeling to reach this level. It adds a lot of responsibility because we're not representing a team, not an institute, but a country."

"Being shortlisted from 1,600+ teams and making it to 'Top 21' itself is great," he added.

Notably, theirs is the only Asian team to get shortlisted.

Futuristic concept

The competition, an opportunity to work on a futuristic concept

Talking about the team, Pranit said, "The founding members of the team are big followers of Elon Musk and Hyperloop is his brainchild."

He said, "When we got to know about Musk, Hyperloop, and this competition, we decided this is an opportunity to work on a futuristic concept," adding this was what motivated them.

He said the team comprises students currently enrolled at IIT-Madras.

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The team took part in 2018 competition too

Notably, Avishkar Hyperloop participated in 2018 Hyperloop Pod Competition and cleared the first round, making it to the top 47 out of over 1,200 teams. Unfortunately, it couldn't qualify in the second round. In this year's final round, the team will compete with 20 others.


Pranit on Hyperloop, the 'game-changing transport technology'

Pranit on Hyperloop, the 'game-changing transport technology'

Explaining about the Hyperloop transport concept, Pranit said air resistance and mechanical friction are two things that restrict speed, adding, "Hyperloop, as a concept, eliminates both of these (that restrict high speed)."

"The (Hyperloop) pod travels inside a vacuum tube...there is no air resistance, you can travel at higher speeds; secondly, the mechanical friction is overcome by magnetic levitation, which is contactless," he added.

The model

Competition about developing a model that travels at high speeds

Talking about the team's Hyperloop pod model, Pranit said the competition is about developing a model that touches very high speeds in a restricted distance.

"They give us a 1.5km vacuum-tube facility...the goal is to achieve the highest possible speed and then brake down to zero," he said.

The team's pod would run on wheels having individual motors, battery packs, control systems, braking, etc.

Had a lot of support from institute, alumni: Pranit

On the cost incurred, Pranit said, "This year, our budget was around Rs. 1 crore, including the logistics and travel." He added, "We had a lot of support from our institute and alumni and we got a lot of sponsors as well."


Pranit on the major challenges faced by the team

Further talking about the challenges faced by the team, Pranit said the time they had to build their model was a major challenge. After the first two rounds, the team had only 3-3.5 months (March-June) to build, test, and ship the model for the final round.

He added getting facilities for testing the model was another challenge as Hyperloop is a very new concept.

Hyperloop in India

On when Hyperloop could become a reality in India

On when Hyperloop could become a reality in India

Asked when Hyperloop transport could become a reality in India, Pranit said, "There's been a lot of work...Virgin Hyperloop One signed an MoU with Maharashtra's government."

He said the company is building a 10km-track for testing and running the pod which could take a couple of years, following which a Mumbai-Pune route will be built. He said the entire process might take 4-5 years.

Take risks and proceed further: Pranit's message

Signing off with a message to NewsBytes' readers and other aspirants, Pranit said, "Take risks and proceed further." The IIT-Madras student also added, "Everything that is so revolutionary has faced a lot of resistance coming to reality."

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