• Brandminds 2020

Denis Tudor (co-founder at Swisspod Technologies): Hyperloop is the future of transportation

Denis Tudor is CEO and Co-founder at Swisspod Technologies. His startup is building the most efficient and affordable Hyperloop solutions.

CEO & co-founder Swisspod Technologies Denis Tudor

I reached out to Denis to learn more about the hyperloop and why he believes it is the future of transportation.

1. Speed is killing the planet. How does the hyperloop help stop the climate crisis?

Speed is killing the planet. I think it is time to focus on efficiency and sustainability. Our Hyperloop company, Swisspod, focuses to bring on the market the most affordable and efficient Hyperloop solutions, which means sustainability.

To fix ideas, for an average travelling speed 10x more than an electrical car, the CO2 emissions/km/passenger are 4x less.

We do need to stop the climate crisis and it is our duty (scientists and entrepreneurs) to convince the decision-makers to implement such solutions.

At the moment, we focus on reducing the CO2 footprint in Switzerland for a route between Geneva and Zurich (226 km). We propose a solution of 17 minutes for an energy consumption cost per passenger per journey of around 8 CHF.

2. What is the 5th mode?

5th mode is… the 5th mode of transportation. We have planes, trains, cars and boats.

Hyperloop will be the new mode of transportation which can be defined “as fast as a plane, as convenient as a train”.

It represents a transportation solution which can achieve sonic speed (1200 km/h) with lower CO2 emissions and energy consumption.

The Swisspod hyperloop pod design / Swisspod.ch

3. Your team entered the SpaceX Hyperloop competition this year and was the third-fastest transport pod. Your pod also ranked 1st in safety. Congratulations!

Thank you. Actually, my experience in Hyperloop is much longer.

I started this adventure in 2015 when Elon Musk launched the first Hyperloop Competition ever. The first competition was held in 2 different stages: design weekend and competition weekend. Around 10k teams from the entire world registered in the competition. We got the first prize for the best design award from Elon Musk.

After we won the Design Weekend in January 2016, we had a crowdfunding campaign in the Silicon Valley where we managed to fundraise the money we wanted. We had different collaborations with companies in Silicon Valley, as well as with NASA Ames California.

In September 2016 we won the first prize for the best design at a Hyperloop competition in Dubai.

In January 2017, the competition weekend was organized and we were awarded the Best Innovation Award after we built what we proposed at the design weekend. This was the second first prize from Elon Musk. Due to some issues, in the second competition, we did not get any award and I left the team.

I arrived in Switzerland and I created my own team here. At the third competition, we were awarded the first prize for safety and third prize for speed.

As a conclusion, I was awarded 4 different prizes in the last 3 years with 3 different capsules from Elon Musk: 1st prize for the Best Hyperloop Design, 1st prize for Innovation, 1st prize for Safety, 3rd prize for speed.

Denis Tudor at the biggest event in EPFL / LinkedIn

Now, I am retired from the competition and I opened my start-up with a Swiss person. I think it is time to let other young people push boundaries and have better results than us.

My only regret is that I did not win the 1st prize for speed, but yeah… speed is killing the planet.

At the moment, I focus on my start-up in Switzerland, Swisspod and on my PhD studies. I do a PhD in optimal sizing of the Hyperloop capsules in electrical energy. World-widely, this PhD is ranked second after Singapore. So, yes, pretty tough life… kidding. It is fun.

4. What was it like to meet Elon Musk? What did he like about your pod design?

Elon is a nice guy. I met him twice.

The last meeting was in the summer of 2018 where we had a meeting of about one hour. We had a very nice conversation and he inspired me to create the Swisspod Technologies company.

We also discussed the future of transportation and our pod design. He was especially impressed by our battery energy storage system which had a better performance than a Tesla.

Just to give you an idea, we created a vehicle whose power to mass ratio is 3x more than a Bugatti Veyron and 2x more than a Tesla.

Denis Tudor and Elon Musk

5. Share your vision of the future.

I hope Hyperloop will represent one of the transportation solutions. I do believe in complementary transportation solutions which means that we need to interconnect the different modes of transportation.

I believe in a fossil-fuel-free world and very low CO2 emissions. This represents a very important issue that needs to be solved worldwide.

In my vision of the future, AI will play a vital role but it will be constrained by different boundaries created by humankind.

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