MIT students to bring Elon Musk’s Hyperloop closer to reality

Concept design of Hyperloop. © wikipedia
A group of engineer students from MIT has won right to design and test SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept, which envisions a transportation system that would move people in pods through reduced-pressure tubes at almost supersonic speed.

A team of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology outflanked more than 1,000 rivals to win a competition for the right to develop the innovative idea held at Texas A&M University in the city of College Station this Saturday.

“Our team embodies this spirit, comprised of 25 students across aeronautics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and business management. We have also assembled an advisory board of brilliant professors and experienced industry leaders who have provided technical guidance and feedback,” says the MIT team’s official website

The team presented a relatively light-weight pod (about 550 lbs or 250 kg), which is expected to travel at a max speed of 110 m/s.

Second place was claimed by Delft University of Technology of the Netherlands, third went to the University of Wisconsin, while Virginia Tech and the University of California, Irvine came in fourth and fifth respectively.

“What we really intended to do with the Hyperloop competition is spur interest in new forms of transportation. And I’m starting to think this is really going to happen,” said Musk to the crowd after the results were announced.

We were excited to welcome Elon Musk to Aggieland today as part of this weekend's SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design...

Posted by Texas A&M University on Saturday, January 30, 2016

The first five teams will get a chance to test their capsule prototypes at a Hyperloop Test Track being built next to SpaceX’s headquarters in California.

“We’re going to test (the pods) at the highest possible speed on the 1.5 kilometer track, and of course you have to stop before the end. There will be a foam pit at the end so you might recover some pieces of your pod,” Musk also said.

The so-called Hyperloop is a project to create a high-speed transportation system involving pressurized capsules riding on air cushions inside a tube, which would be capable of carrying 20 to 30 people at a speed of about 700 mph (1,127 km/h).

The initial design documents published in 2013 proposed a route from Los Angeles to San Francisco that could be traversed in less than 35 minutes. The idea came to Musk as he was stuck in traffic in Los Angeles, thinking that there must be some way to avoid such an inconvenience.