It all started in the year 2013, when Elon Musk unveiled his idea of hyperloop to the world. Little did Suyash Singh, then a mechanical engineering student, know how this would change his life.

The third edition of Newton Speaks saw Suyash Singh, the founder of Team Avishkar Hyperloop, carry us through how a student group from IIT Madras went to SpaceX, and beyond.

Commonly referred to as the fifth mode of transportation, the hyperloop is a futuristic technology which is a blend of all the advantages of the existing modes of transport. Leading the charge in the race to realizing the concept in India is Team Avishkar Hyperloop. Founded by Suyash Singh, the group of students from IIT Madras began the journey with a vision in mind – to make a global mark in the field of hyperloop technology, while offering an affordable and efficient medium of transport to a populous country such as ours.

Combining various core technological fields such as physics, electromagnetics, magnetic levitation, and so on, the hyperloop is a sealed vacuum tube through which a pod may travel free of drag and friction, expected to achieve a speed of nearly around 1200 km/hr. While briefly describing it’s working, Suyash Singh stressed on how the technology focuses on providing an efficient mode of transportation that can function seamlessly without the inconveniences such as traffic and weather hindering them.

When they first embarked on this mission, there was little to no literature present. Hyperloop was an abstract idea, and apart from designing and building a functioning prototype, they had the vital task of conversing with sponsors and obtaining funds in order to keep their dream alive - all while managing their daily academics and assignments. “There was no DAY for us, it was all night” says Suyash. Often, parts or equipment would take time to be shipped, the team would feel lost on how to proceed, money would be scarce, the deadline would be ticking closer and closer - there was no dearth to the hurdles they faced. But even with endless cramming and multiple sleepless nights, they kept themselves motivated, because they knew it was worth it. What is herculean need not be impossible. And this perseverance is what led them to be amongst the top 21 finalists in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition 2019.

In fact, they were the only Asian team to qualify out of 1600+ teams. Their pod went on to place 8th in the finals, and Suyash Singh also got to meet his role model, Elon Musk. Suyash describes Elon musk as a humble fellow who nurtures innovation. Even having met him in the previous iteration of the competition, to meet a role model at one’s finest moment is nothing short of a dream come true.

Avishkar Hyperloop cemented India as a forerunner in hyperloop technology. This does come with its fair share of doubts. When asked if India, as a developing country, should be investing in this futuristic tech, Suyash stands by his belief that it would benefit our country in the long run. “Of course there would be a lot of capital cost. But the cost of running would be drastically reduced, (it would open up opportunities), and it would cut short time significantly. It would be a smart investment.” Finding investors was one of the hardest hurdles that Suyash and his team faced as new technologies may make the more conservative investors nervous. But the team overcame this challenge by seeking out investments from early investors and from those who wish to make a mark in a fresh market segment such as this.

To foster the development of advanced technologies and to raise awareness about hyperloop to those unaware or apprehensive of it, Team Avishkar plans to host an Indian Hyperloop Pod Competition in the future. Planning for this has kept them motivated during the coronavirus pandemic. They have also taken it as an opportunity to sharpen their technical and innovative skills.

As for Suyash Singh’s future, having finished his M. Tech in Aerospace Engineering and passed on the torch to the third generation of Avishkar members, he plans to set out on a new adventure by starting a new company delving into Deep Tech and space.

Team Avishkar’s journey strengthens our belief in hard work and dedication. In Suyash’s words, “Keeping the momentum” is the key to setting deadlines and tackling the bottlenecks. And in the end, the team-work and grit always pay off. Their story is certainly an inspiration to many engineering students of our nation to take up challenges, and aim to bring out the next era of technology.

Check out more about Team Avishkar Hyperloop at http://avishkarhyperloop.com/index.php

To watch the full talk, click on: https://youtu.be/RGr_0JA38aY

Rahul Ekkanath & Swathy Suresh