After a year of various design stages the SpaceX Hyperloop competition weekend took place at the end of January.
Hyperloop, the project to revolutionise the future of travel is some way off but the involvement of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk continues to fuel the excitement around the project, keeping it very clearly on the agenda of engineers worldwide. Pods gliding through low pressure tubes delivering people and cargo from A to B at speed and with no turbulence, may seem like something from a sci-fi movie, but with some systems tested last year and more scheduled for this year, that future could become a reality in the next 5 years.
More than 100 entries were received from across the world in the first round of the competition in January 2016 and a panel of judges whittled that down to just 30 to progress through to the next stage. Over the past 12 months engineering teams from universities have been researching, building and honing their designs in preparation for final testing. In the end 27 teams participated in the first competition weekend at the end of January this year; each hoping for the chance to get their pod into the mile long testing tube.
After structural tests, open air runs and a vacuum chamber test, only 3 pods actually made it to the test track: Warr Hyperloop from Munich, Delft Hyperloop from the Netherlands and American based MIT Hyperloop
The victors, taking home the prize for the best overall score were the team from Delft University. The factors upon which the decision was based were, the pod design, safety, and the speed inside the testing tunnel.
The team from Warr came in second with the fastest pod in the competition. It reached approximately 58 miles per hour on the test track. Whilst this is significantly slower than the anticipated final speeds of Hyperloop pods, at this stage it is a huge achievement, with many pods not even expected to move along the track, let alone at speeds of more than 50mph.
With the competition taking place in Los Angeles, there was the expected support for the US based MIT team but there was an honourable mention for another American based team. Team Hyperlift from St Johns High School in Texas got it’s mention in the area of performance and operations; a huge achievement for the sole high school team to get through to this stage of the competition against University and College engineering teams.
The sheer number of entries and the interest in the project means that there is already a second competition weekend planned for the summer this year when once again, teams from all over the world will be whittled down to just a few to participate and get their pods on to the test track.
If you want to keep up to speed with Hyperloop developments check their website for the latest news.