Frequently Asked Questions | Hyperloop

When can we buy Hover Engines?

You can pre-order your hover engines now. We anticipate that production-model hover engines will be available in mid-March of 2016. Each engine costs $4850, and are available in packs of two. Engines are available on a PRE-ORDER BASIS ONLY, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can reserve engines by placing a 50% non-refundable deposit now, with the balance to be paid at the time of delivery of the engines. For more information and to pre-order your Hover Engines, please visit our order page.

How many hover engines do we need?

We strongly recommend a minimum of 4 hover engines. Depending on size and weight of your pod, you may need several more. It may make sense to dedicate four engines for lift, and others for control, thrust, braking and/or additional lift. It really depends on your design. Multiple engines will also provide a layer of redundancy and reliability.

Can we buy one engine to test out the technology?

We are only offering the technology in sets of two. MFA technology needs to be deployed in sets of two in order to experience the capabilities of lift and control. For designers with no experience with MFA, we STRONGLY recommend using four engines as that configuration provides the most ride stability without having to develop complex control methods.

What does a Hover Engine consist of?

The engines designed for the HL competition consist of a motor, a motor controller and a STARM (STator ARM), which is the magnetic levitation component of the system.

Are the engines available in multiple sizes?

For purposes of cost and performance we will be providing one form factor to the HL Pod competitors and one form factor for the micro-pod competitors.

Will the engines provided by Arx Pax offer both rotation and actuation?

The motor and controller in a Hover Engine provides rotation. Systems will come pre-set with optimized rotational speeds, thermal limits, current limits, etc. Teams will be responsible for providing their own actuation schemes, as those decisions will depend largely on the physical system design of your pod.

Will Arx Pax provide information on how to control motion and braking?

YES. We’ll provide data (tilt angle vs. thrust) and pictorial information to get teams to better understand how to control their systems using MFA. We are still working on a timeline to deliver this data to teams.

How is heat dissipated? How much heat is dissipated in the surface and how much in the motor assembly?

The vast majority of the heat is generated in and dissipated by the substrate. Simulation data tells us that the temperature rise will be minimal over the short period of time the pods will be in the tube.

Very little heat is generated in the hover engine itself and can be dealt with using standard thermal mitigation strategies.

How does translational speed affect power and performance of the system?

Simulations show at faster speeds our system more efficiently creates magnetic flux in the conductive surface.

Data on this is forthcoming.

The aluminum sub-track is now only 0.5 inches thick in the high-speed portion of the test track. Will that be enough for your system to work efficiently?

YES. Simulations show at faster speeds our system more efficiently creates magnetic flux in the conductive surface.
At high speeds we expect to need relatively less surface depth to create sufficient eddy currents suitable to maintain hover.

How about Power consumption data?

We will characterize power consumption as a function of hover height and RPM. This information will be available to teams when we release the data prior to year-end.

If many Hover Engines are required to lift a heavy Pod design, is there a minimum distance that should be kept between engines to prevent interference?

We recommend that Hover Engines placed in close proximity to each other spin in opposite directions. In this mode of operation they can be placed as close as 5 cm apart.

For engines placed next to each other while spinning in the same direction, we recommend a separation distance of at least one Hover Engine diameter

When will additional Hover Engine data become available to the competitors?

We are upgrading our technical offering. While our existing solution is certainly suitable for the Hyperloop Pod competition’s specifications, we have been investigating new system architectures. Early internal data tells us that the new technology could offer significant upgrades in lift capability and an improvement in overall control.

We’re also trying to make improvements in the overall design that could help lower the cost of the system. We expect to have initial lift-performance data that teams can rely on before the end of the year. We’ll do our best to release relevant interim data as it becomes available.

In the meantime, contestants can look at the current data available on our website as WORST-CASE performance information. We are quite confident in this data which is based on our well-tested, first-generation Hover Engine design.

Do you have a developer kit?

Hyperloop Developer Kits will be available for purchase in late January or early February for teams who want to evaluate MFA prior to final manufacturing. The HDK is a fully operational small-scale platform optimized to feature hover. The engines in this kit will be of a smaller form-factor of the HE3.0 engine we will be releasing in the spring, and the system is designed to allow your team maximum flexibility in analyzing and developing around MFA for pod design. For those of you interested in the micro-pod competition, the HDK could serve as a levitation, propulsion and control platform.

What is the Maximum rated current of the hover engines?

100 AMP (peak)

What is the Operating voltage region?

TBD. However, expected to be in the 60 to 72 VDC range.

Does the engine performance change with hover height?

As payload increases, so does amperage; at the same time hover height decreases. See Fig. 2 in the datasheet for an approximation of the effect. Actual performance will be vehicle and payload-specific.

Does Arx Pax recommend any batteries or battery types?

We do not have any specific recommendations, and all power supply design depends on the overall vehicle system design. Teams are responsible for their own power supply systems, even for the hover capability in their design.

For our hoverboards and 1/12th scale POD, Arx Pax is using the generally available lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries as they provide high current suited to those applications.The existing hoverboard design, for example, features each engine using four 5000mAh, 50C, 4S LiPo hobby cells.

*If you choose to use LiPo batteries, please research and adhere to all safety measures as LiPo batteries can be dangerous.*

Braking – Is it as easy as sending a command with a micro controller or do we have to come up with a sub-routine for that?

If you use the hover engine for thrust and braking, you will need to develop a tilt mechanism for the hover engines.

For an example of a working system, please see end-view of the 1/12 scale POD prototype video (starting at approximately 12 seconds). Here you can see the counter-rotating hover engines being rotated toward and away from each other to induce translation and braking.

Does Arx Pax plan to compete directly with other POD competition teams?

Arx Pax is excited that our hover engines will be in the hands of very talented individuals. We are looking forward to seeing what will be achieved. We hope that pod teams will use our technology in the design and development of their pod for the final competition. We believe it’s the most feature rich maglev technology available.

We do not envision building our own pod. If for some unforeseen reason our technology is not used, it is more likely that we will focus on supporting another team or build our own pod for the competition.

Ultimately, it is not our intention to compete for any of the pod competition prizes against other teams that are using our MFA technology in the Hyperloop competition.

Is it permissible to use Hover Engines outside of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition?

Yes, in a limited way. Arx Pax is releasing its HE3.0 Hover Engines specifically for the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. But because so many of the competitors are University and Research Institution teams, we decided to allow teams the opportunity to use the Hover Engines they purchased for their continued research. Our Hover Engines incorporate Arx Pax’s patented MFA technology so you’ll notice that the license agreement you sign when purchasing your engines allows teams to continue using their engines for their ongoing research. Arx Pax believes putting our technology in the hands of some of the smartest and most capable people in the world could unlock potential for MFA that we haven’t dreamed of yet! Because the license only allows for use in the competition and for your research, we’re able to keep the costs lower for competitors. Though it’s not
permissible under this license to use the hover engines for commercial purposes, if you have an idea that you would like to explore related to a potential commercial application, please contact us to discuss additional licensing options.