SpaceX’s Hyperloop low-pressure transportation system has moved a step closer to reality with the announcement that a group of MIT student engineers has won the chance to design a working prototype.
The scheme is the brainchild of tech billionaire Elon Musk who last year proposed a low pressure, high-speed transport system, which would be able to transport people at subsonic speeds of around 700mph.
LA to San Francisco at 760mph
Musk’s broad proposal was for an elevated pressurised system that would transport pods of passengers from LA to San Francisco. He set out his ideas in this white paper.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston has been chosen to take forward Musk’s idea after coming through a competition of more than 1000 college students at Texas A&M University.
Around 100 teams presented ideas to a judging panel who reached their decision over the weekend.
SpaceX and Elon Musk are keen to point out that they have no direct affiliation with the winning team and that they are looking to accelerate development of a Hyperloop prototype, rather than build one themselves.
However SpaceX has offered to develop a one-mile circuit next to its headquarters, where half-sized prototype test pods can be run.
How does it work?
The MIT Hyperloop team says that its design philosophy is to “demonstrate high speed, low drag levitation technology.”
It adds: “We aim to build a light weight pod to allow us to achieve the highest cruise speed. Pending SpaceX launcher specifications, our 250kg pod should be accelerated at 2.4G to a max speed of 110m/s.”
Levitation will be achieved through “neodymium magnets” giving the pod 15mm of levitation. The electric propulsion and breaking will be controlled autonomously and the pod will be made of carbon fibre. For more info, head to: http://hyperloop.mit.edu/
Although MIT won the competition, the top five will all have the chance to make prototypes, which will be tested on the Hyperloop test track before a final competition day this summer.
Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands were second, the University of Wisconsin third, Virginia Tech fourth and the University of California, Irvine, fifth.