Ever since its students came 4th in a hyperloop competition held in the US by SpaceX last year, and earned fulsome praise from Elon Musk himself, IIT-Madras has been hyper-interested in hyperloop. The students, who worked under the institute’s Avishkar programme, missed getting into the top three by a whisker, despite being hamstrung by funding and enough time to get their pod going, but this has enthused the entire team at the IIT.
Now it wants to build a small hyperloop stretch, maybe half a km, for experiment purposes.
It has roped in Ravi Santhanam, an IIT-M alumnus and former Managing Director of Hindustan Motors, to advise the team on the project. Santhanam is believed to have counselled that for starter, IIT-M could work on a steam-power catapulted pod for carrying light cargo (or, for that matter, garbage for disposal)–forget about bells and whistles such as maglev and vaccuumised tunnels. A pod carrying only cargo need not be burdened with layers and layers of safety features that one that would ferry humans would need to have—so it would be cheaper. Let’s first gain some experience with cargo, then proceed to humans, seems to have been Santhaman’s refrain.
It is learnt that the project is spear-headed by Dr Sathya Chakravarthy, professor of Aerospace, who is also the Convenor of the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development, a joint initiative of the IIT and IISc, Bengaluru.
The aim: a cost-effective, made-in-India hyperloop solution that would help the country take a hyper leap into the future.