Inside Waterloop’s Pod

Inside Waterloop’s Pod

February 10, 2020 0 By Looper

It comes as no surprise that nowadays software is present everywhere we look. We are coming to a point where without it there can be no further development. With this being said, it is obvious that hyperloop pods, as a part of the automotive industry, must be equipped with a complex software system.

Waterloop is a student team from the University of Waterloo in Canada. They are competing in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Pod Challenge placed in California.

The team provided insight into the software systems that are used in their hyperloop pods. They categorized them as embedded systems, control systems and communication systems. Together they form the central nervous system responsible for control and communication between all of the parts of the pod.

The Embedded System is basically a palette of sensors and actuators that have various functions. It can provide output data enabling location of the pod within the tube and connections between the pod and a remote control dashboard. It is also responsible for the control over other subsystems.

Team Waterloop working the GOOSE I pod

GOOSE V is the new and improved pod created by Waterloop team. They decided to work on communication protocols like CAN and I2C. The CAN networks are known to be sort of a standard in automotive system as they ensure high noise resistance along with reliable high-speed communication. In I2C data is transferred bit by bit along a single wire which in turn allows multiple devices to communicate without creating a complicated network. To use it, the team had to adjust everything so that controller boards are nearby the pod because I2C is not intended for long-range off-board signal carrying.

The system is also based on sensors used for liquid cooling, temperature maintenance of the LIM (Linear Induction Motor), brakes, inverter, monitoring of the navigation system and for lateral stability of the pod on the track. The Embedded System also has a fail-safe system which is supposed to automatically switch to operation in safe mode as soon as it discovers that the respective systems are unresponsive.

The Communication System is vital because during the operation this system relays information throughout the pod via communication protocols. The most commonly used communication protocols are Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP). Both of them are internet protocol networks. The difference between the two is that TCP is connection-oriented whereas the UDP is a connectionless protocol.

In Waterloop’s pod the protocols (TCP) transmit data via the CAN BUS Networks to the microcontroller – Arduino.  This model will assure the simplicity, real-time benefits and low current draw in comparison with previously used Raspberry Pi.

For more detailed information you can go to here or here.