ETH Hyperloop Project Takes Advantage of Innovative Stäubli Connectors

June 18, 2018
On May 23, the veil of secrecy around the Swissloop Pod for the Swiss ETH team's entry in Elon Musk's "2018 Hyperloop Pod Competition" was lifted.

The team of young engineers, who beat 1,200 competitors for third place last year, qualified to participate again this year in the competition in California. Stäubli Electrical Connectors will also be present with its powerful and reliable connector solutions.


Five years ago, visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk presented his “Hyperloop” concept for high-speed transport with magnetically levitating trains in vacuum tubes. The concept strives to massively reduce long travel times through speeds of over 1200 km/h. At SpaceX in California, his spaceflight company’s site, he launched the “Hyperloop Pod Competition” in 2015 to advance the development of functional prototypes and the exploration of the necessary technological innovations. This competition targets college students, graduates, and young engineers at science and technology institutes such as the Swissloop team from ETH Zurich.


With high power


Musk’s assessment criteria were heightened for 2018: maximum speed and self-propulsion are required. The speed to beat is 325 km/h, reached by the Technical University of Munich last year. The new pod from Swissloop is being developed and manufactured in cooperation with a large number of innovative Swiss industrial firms. The Swiss ETH Swissloop team relies on powerful electrical propulsion. Stäubli Electrical Connectors – the specialist for advanced contact technology – is supporting the young engineers with expertise to ensure low-loss energy transfer for high power. Stäubli know-how and technology are used at various interfaces of the Swissloop energy propulsion concept.


With inventive spirit


Space is tight in the pod, and the airtight sealing demands in vacuum operation are high. Therefore, safe and reliable pluggable connections are required. With ingenuity and creativity, the specialists from Stäubli are designing the necessary connectors together with the young Swissloop team. The requirements are: as small, light, and compact as possible, with modules for various media such as signals, data, power, and fluids, and the greatest possible energy transfer with minimum voltage drop. The Stäubli CombiTac impressed the Swissloop engineers right away with its modularity and 100% adaptability to customer requirements. The unbeatable properties of Stäubli’s own MULTILAM contact technology come into play here by providing a high current-carrying capacity (in both intermittent and permanent operation) and allowing reliable performance throughout a broad temperature range.


The connection between the powerful battery packs and the power inverters is ensured with a customized CombiTac system, and a compact MSD (manual safety disconnect) solution is also implemented by using the Stäubli CombiTac. The solutions for the pluggable connection were developed together with engineering support from Stäubli on the basis of application-related specifications – always keeping compactness and weight optimization in mind.


With innovative energy


The excitement is mounting: Months of intensive work, tinkering, brainstorming, testing, and evaluation are over. The Swissloop Pod was introduced in its entirety to all the sponsors, the media, and the public on May 23: a powerful bundle of innovative energy and cutting-edge technology. On July 22, 2018, we will see what the talented young engineers can achieve with their new Swissloop Pod utilizing the know-how of Stäubli Electrical Connectors for propulsion and energy transfer in the third “Hyperloop Pod Competition” at SpaceX in California. Besides its high-tech connectors and expertise for outstanding, powerful electrical connection solutions, Stäubli Electrical Connectors also sends along its best wishes to California.