How This Indian Makerspace Is Building Hyperloop's Orcapod

It's a neutral facility that provides space, tools, machines and mentors for hardware products

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When in December 2013, Pavan Kumar and Anupama Gowda got together to build Workbench Projects in Bengaluru, their idea was to buid a space for makers, which with time has grown into a prominent makerspace, FabLab and a public laboratory. From providing space for an idea to grow, today, they are home to the team working on Hyperloop's Orcapod.

Workbench Projects

Hyperloop On Board!

On a sultry March morning, when Anupama received an email from Hyperloop India, she was pleasantly surprised. "They reached out to us saying that a multi-disciplinary team working on the Orcapod, India's entry for the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design competition, is looking for a space to work that out and will be willing to relocate to Bengaluru for two months," she said.

Having a built space that encourages hardware innovation, Pavan and Anupama went through a reality check over the possibility of accommodating a highly ambitious project and over a month-long exchange with the team. They signed an MoU with Hyperloop India. A team of students from premier educational institutes of India – IIM Ahmedabad, ISB Hyderabad and BITS Pilani – will soon be arriving at their space to build the pod. And Workbench Projects will be putting together a dedicated group of mentors for the team who will work along with the students to build the pod.

Looping In The Funds

While the resources to build the pod is slowly falling in place, the expense to bear the manufacturing isn't going to be a small number. "The total project will cost INR75 lakh. The prototype in itself will cost approx INR 30 lakh while the shipping cost is estimated to be INR 20 lakh. Hyperloop India has raised INR 20 lakh and, given the magnanimity of the project and the opportunities that will come with it, we hope to get more sponsors on board soon," said Anupama.

Why Workbench?

A neutral facility that provides space, tools, machines and mentors for hardware products, Workbench Projects, centrally located in Bengaluru, was the ideal choice. "We believe that if you have an idea to do things, then you should have the accessibility too. From homemakers, students, retired professionals, entrepreneurs to researchers — we welcome all into our space. We are loaded with tools that will help them execute their ideas," said Anupama and added, "Our revenue comes from unique projects that we conceive, curate and execute."

The Vision

While there is no monetary compensation involved in the building of the pod, Workbench Projects believes that the reward is much greater. "With this, we will get recognition in the global scenario. In India, there has been an overkill of software and we desperately need a hub for hardware that is specifically working towards responsible innovation," added Anupama.