SpaceX hosted a hyperloop pod design test competition at its Hawthorne headquarters this past weekend, where student teams got the chance to run their pod designs in low-pressure environments in a test track for the first time. There were a number of teams competing, with 30 in total selected to come down for the trials, but only three were actually able to perform runs this weekend, since each had to pass a number of tests for things like structural integrity and vacuum chamber survivability in order to compete. Update: UMD Loop, Virginia Tech and University of Washington’s teams also qualified, but were not able to compete on the day due to lack of time.
The three teams that made it through include a team from MIT, one from Delft University, and one from WARR, a student group from the Technical University of Munich. The teams ran their pods in the test tube, with the fastest (WARR) achieving a max speed of around 90 km/h. The one mile test track obviously can’t achieve the max speeds or nearly 300 km/h that Hyperloop tech eventually will shoot for, and this is also early days for these designs.
Delft, a school in the Netherlands, got the best overall score for its design, while TUM got the fastest time, as mentioned. MIT came in third, after having landed the award for best overall design in 2016.
A final phase of the competition is set for this summer, and all 30 of the teams selected for this trial will be potentially able to compete there, even if they couldn’t pass the tests to run their pods this time around. That means we could see a much wider field in the final leg, provided the other teams can address the issues that caused them to fail this first group of tests between now and then.