Think of the next step in transportation evolution that allows efficient high speed transit from one place to another. That is cost effective and safe at the same time. It’s been called the 5th form of transportation and what I’m talking about is the Hyperloop, a brainchild of Elon Musk at SpaceX. It’s a ground-based transportation method that will take a person from one place to another in mere minutes. The Hyperloop system uses a technology by incorporating reduced pressure tubes in which cargo pods, together with passengers, levitate. Since low pressure causes less air friction, the pods will have the potential of accelerating into great speeds. Calculations made shows that the Hyperloop pod will allow a passenger to travel between London and Paris in just 15 minutes!
To make this a reality a big open source competition was announced and over 1200 teams all over the world joined up. The final stage approaches fast and only 30 teams remain in the competition and the rLoop is one of them. The only non-student team with a very different approach, working globally in a way most people can only dream of. They are currently crowdfunding for the building of their pod at Indigogo, go check that out! Now for the Q&A with Brent Lessard, the CEO and Project Manager of the rLoop!
Q: I have heard of the Hyperloop from different sources and that SpaceX through Elon Musk started it all. Can you tell us how it all began and more explicit how you came to be part of this cool project?
A: Elon Musk unveiled the concept in 2013 and open sourced his Alpha Paper, indicating that he was too busy with SpaceX and Tesla to work on the Hyperloop. There was not much progress on the Hyperloop achieved in the two years after his announcement, so to accelerate development SpaceX announced an open design competition. At that point, someone made a post on the SpaceX subreddit suggesting we had the technical know how to design a pod, and rLoop was born.
Q: So I assume the name rLoop came from the classic reddit thread build up /r ?
A: Yes, originally we called ourselves redditloop, but quickly changed to rLoop. It’s certainly a nod to our origins. The original post suggesting we enter the competition was made on r/SpaceX. That post received a lot of attention from the community and the team started to organically self-organize from there.
Q: You guys are a non-student team, but wouldn’t it be great to take part of young students inner fire and everything-is-possible-mentality?
A: The truth is rLoop is approximately 85% students. We like to think of participation in rLoop as educational as well, so we don’t just task the experienced professionals in the group with certain tasks. Anyone can take on a task, get guidance and feedback from those with more experience, and in the end we increase the quality of the interactions between members and everyone comes out ahead.
Q:When is the next event and what are your chances of winning?
A: There are some milestones to achieve along the way but the next stage of the event is the final one – racing our completed prototype on the test track in Hawthorne, CA. We have a great team and a strong design – I know we’re going to be serious contenders. There will be a lot of data and experience gathered from the competition weekend, so we’re looking forward to that. Regardless of the outcome of the weekend, I think what we’ve achieved in the past ten months has been incredible – organizing organically, pushing the boundaries of the open source and crowd sourced model, collaboratively designing a prototype design that beat out over 1,200 other teams, and competing against well established institutions like MIT, Virginia Tech, and Delft – all of whom have massive corporate sponsors.
Q: Air or Magnetic?:)
A: Magnetic. The manufacturing demands on the tube would be too costly for air bearings – and I think you’ll find any of the commercial entities are going the same route. We’ve been lucky enough to have a good relationship with Arx Pax – their MFA technology will be providing levitation for our pod.
Q: If someone wants to join your team now, how should they go about?
A: The needs of the team fluctuate. We’re currently at an advanced stage of the competition, with many aspects of our pod design already frozen. We always have a need for certain fields, though, so anyone passionate about making the Hyperloop a reality should certainly contact us through our website, rloop.org.
Q: And if everything goes according to plan, what’s the ultimate vision here??A: rLoop’s operational model is quite interesting to see in action. The crowd sourced platform welcomes diversity of perspective and allows the best ideas to rise to the top by making everyone an equal. Your geographical location, your religion, your politics, your education – none of these are a factor in your voice being heard. The open source ethos allows a quick and free flow of information, encouraging constant and rapid iteration. As a result, we’ve been able to organize, design, and compete against some of the world’s greatest institutions – and we did it in ten months without ever having met in person.
We’re hellbent on making the Hyperloop a reality, and that is what we’re going to do. We want to leverage our performance and the data collected from the competition weekend to make that happen.
Q: Give us 3 tips from what you have learned on your way to other technology entrepreneurs?
Passion is the ultimate incentive – if you are not passionate about your project, it will be evident.
Your vision is your greatest asset.
Being open source will drive innovation – never be stagnant!
Q: Finally, tell us: why should your project get funded?
A: rLoop is working to make the Hyperloop a reality. The project places rLoop at the forefront of technology and innovation. We believe the Hyperloop is a revolution for transportation, and we believe the approach to realizing it can be revolutionary as well. We’d love to have a passionate community join us on this journey of international collaboration and innoavtion.
Thank you Brent Lessard for this interview and good luck in the contest!
The fight against shaky smartphone videos might come to an end today, at least that’s the vision of Rick Whang and his team at Navin. 1218 backers at Indigogo are hoping the same!
The Pro View S3 is a camera stabilizer for smartphones and a one stop solution for those who want to shoot videos like a pro! The stabilizer is specially designed for large 4K smartphones but works just as well with mid sized ones too, as the unit can handle screen sizes ranging from 4.7” up to 5.7”. It gives users the liberty of shooting ultra smooth videos. Being professionally designed, the Pro View S3 is also the world’s first 3-axis gimbal, making it the most versatile smartphone stabilizer yet. Better yet you can crowdfund it today to make this a reality!
See what Rick has for advice for other tech entrepreneurs the future of smartphone filming and why you should fund this project!
How did you come up with this idea and what made you “go for it”?
More smartphones are equipped with high-resolution camera, even 4K camera on the latest models. As video sharing is becoming popular, good to enable everyone to take cinematic video shots like filmmakers using their smartphone to better express and share. The technology is here, just need to make it more affordable and accessible to most people.
I would say it’s a better use than the selfie stick…:) If everything goes according to plan, what’s your ultimate vision?
Make shaky video a term in history.
Nice! Now give us 3 tips from what you have learned on your way to other technology entrepreneurs
Real schedule may get 50% longer than expected.
Have a backup plan.
Seek multiple sources.
Finally, tell us: why should your project get funded?
We bring state of the art 3-axis gimbal technology to the market, better than what’s currently available, at an ultra-affordable price. A big step toward obliterating shaky videos!
Well, I for one do hope you succeed in your mission! Thank you Rick Whang at Navin and best of luck on your crowdfunding!
“Living off the grid has always been a dream of mine…”
With SEED that dream can easily become a reality for anyone who has it! With a push of a button it grows in seconds into a small house, with extensive insides and a 360 degree perspective of your environment. Up to 8kW from solar panels and a big battery bank makes this self sustainable unit excellent for incalculable potential uses, lodging for refugees, versatile medicinal facilities, transitory catastrophe alleviation settlement to name a few. Or why not a portable little business on the beach?:) And of course for a nice recreational travel, living of the grid for a while!
How did you come up with this idea and what made you “go for it”?
Living off the grid has always been a dream of mine as it allows people to be one with nature. As a child I would sit in church and draw pictures of mobile houses on wheels that ran on rain water and on energy from the sun. My fascination with electric cars took this to the next level. In 2007 when I graduated university as an Electronics Engineer my dream was to design mobile dwellings that could one day be towed by an electric 4×4 and could charge the 4x4s engine when sitting at a particular destination. It was the release of information on Tesla’s model X vehicle that made me think it is time for the SEED products to come to life and it is my passion for products like Tesla’s vehicles and my SEEDs to exist that will see me make Prodengin succeed.
You mentioned 3 different markets, what are those? And if everything goes according to plan, what’s your ultimate vision for SEED??
The three markets I see are:
1. Small business applications where business owners need mobility such as mobile workshop, mobile restaurants, mobile coffee stalls or retail stores.
2. Affordable housing is another market that is of significant interest to me. The SEED products are the size of a studio apartment and have the facilities required to allow people to live for long periods of time away from civilisation. It would be fantastic if these products could be used for emergency shelters for the disadvantaged as well however the cost to manufacture our products at this stage makes this difficult. This is part of our future plan though. Disasters and wars happen and emergency shelters will be required for many years to come. I have heard people on social media say that these dwellings wouldn’t last in a tornado. What they don’t realise is they don’t have to stay in the danger zone as these products allow users to pack up and move as soon as they get the warnings and then return afterwards.
3. Recreational vehicles and caravanning is another market that suits our products. Caravans are all very similar in shape and size and I believe people need more room and more renewable energy powering options to be comfortable for longer periods when away from home. The high capacity solar panels also ensure there is enough energy being derived when the sun shines for short periods throughout the day to allow people to go further into nature for longer periods of time. The curved front and back walls also allows fuel costs to be dramatically reduced allowing journeys to go further.
Give us 3 tips from what you have learned on your way to other future tech/environment entrepreneurs?
1. First tip is to push past those that say it cannot be done and the risk is too high. Nothing worth doing is easy. This statement has been stated a lot however this is what keeps engineers and business professionals passionate about what they do.
2. Second tip is to do something you are truly passionate about that lines up with as many of your interests as possible. My favourite interests are: spending time with friends and family, technology, travelling, camping and the environment. See how they all fit into the Prodengin SEED products 😀
3. Last tip is to spend as little cash as possible to do as much as possible. When the time is right and the concept is proven your clients will determine how much more you should spend.
Finally, tell us why your campain should get funded?
Our funding campaign was set-up to allow us to bring these products to life. It is very difficult to get a business like this off the ground in Australia and hence I am looking globally for interested partners and clients as well as funding and this is the purpose of the whole campaign and the surrounding media. Without a successful campaign these designs will wait for VC or government funding which could take many years and I believe people can use products like Solar-powered Expandable Eco Dwellings now. If a sponsor walked in tomorrow and said we want Prodengin in California or Pennsylvania for example to manufacture these products we would negotiate this without hesitation. A successful campaign will drive these sponsors to Prodengin much quicker.
Electric vehicles are going to get more and more powerful. I hope there are people like me out there that would love to travel throughout the world towing a comfortable, spacious and sustainable dwelling that can charge their tow vehicle in days thus allowing them to move between destinations without the need to see a fuel station or to spend a cent on fueling their vehicle.
With allready 1400% funded at Kickstarter this projects looks promising!
3D printing is marvelous, however if you need to duplicate a current object of yours, you have somewhat of a test before you. You can either get the opportunity to chip away at a 3D CAD program and reproduce the piece, however that requires abilities the normal customer doesn’t have. On the other hand, you can examine it. 3D Scanners can be costly, which is the reason we’re inspired with by CowTech Ciclop by Jason Smith. It’s a pack that contains nearly all that you need to make a scanner; what doesn’t accompany can be printed with your current 3D printer. Open Sourced of course!;)
How did you come up with idea of an 3D Scanner and what made you “go for it”?
Both of us were very interested in the 3D printing field and we were really looking for a way to replicate objects without creating the CAD file from scratch. 3D scanners were an obvious solution but they were all so expensive. After looking at the technology available, we ran some numbers and guessed that we could make our own 3D scannerfor a fraction of the price of existing models with just a few tweaks.
I see you have backed a lot of projects on Kickstarter, this is more then a job for you is it?
It is certainly more than a job. I love Kickstarter and the idea of being an early adopter and helping really neat projects get off the ground. I hope that with my projects I provide a platform for people to do the same thing.
Was the choice of open source easy for you and how come you choosed it?
Well, we designed the scanner from an open source project, so we did’t really have an option in terms of how we would release it. However, even if we had pioneered the technology, we would have strongly considered making it open source. I love the open source concept and the way that it accelerates technology growth and collaboration. 3D printing certainly wouldn’t be where it is today with the open source revolution within the industry.
Lion Copied by Ciclop 3D Scanner
If everything goes according to plan, what’s your ultimate vision??
Weston and I just want to make awesome products that shatter price points and use common sense engineering. We operate with low overhead, we are savings minded, and years of growing up farming and ranching has given us loads of experience in engineering and design. We have been working on stuff and fiddling with bolts since we were young kids and that teaches you a thing or two about how to design. We know what it’s like to not be able to reach a bolt with your socket wrench, so when we design parts, we make the bolts easily accessible, for example.
Give us 3 tips from what you have learned on your way to other technology entrepreneurs?
The first is that you have more skills than you think, and don’t be afraid to utilize them. Time is your greatest enemy, and sometimes there just isn’t enough to get everything done without outsourcing labor, but if you can do it yourself, don’t be afraid to do so. It doesn’t take a professional graphic designer to make a logo, or a webmaster to create a website. There are increasingly more and more tools that are oriented towards doing these types of things yourself, starting with little to no experience, and they can be great resources.
Second, if you are launching a Kickstarter, make sure you work out as many kinks as possible before you launch your product. Having a prototype and a product that is production ready are literally worlds apart. Do as much part sourcing and final design work as you can, because the littlest tweaks that are necessary to go from prototype to product can be surprisingly expensive.
Finally, there are so many resources online in forums and groups where people are willing and happy to help you out with any questions you have from engineering to software to marketing. They are a really valuable resource to assist in areas where you may not have the expertise or just need help working out a bug.
Finally, tell us: why should your project get funded?
Well, as of this printing, we are already nearly 1400% funded, so there has clearly been a huge demand. However, we stand for more than just producing an affordable product. We are trying to revolutionize the 3D scanning scene. The 3D printer revolution has already come and now is time for the scanner revolution. We wanted to get open source scanners in the hands of as many makers as possible, and we hope that together the project can evolve and improve to totally change the face of 3D scanning.