Hyperloop: MIT Wins SpaceX Pod Design Competition

The ability to transport has been the biggest element in our country’s ability to prosper. By ship, by train, by car, by plane and now… by Hyperloop.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has plans to transform the way human beings get to their destination in the near future. Hyperloop is his plan: a series of vacuum tubes that will enable travel between long stretches of land in a matter of minutes. The innovation is meant to be safer, faster, cheaper, and a more convenient form of transportation that also offers low energy consumption.

On Saturday, more than a thousand college engineer students gathered at a ceremony at Texas A&M University in College Station hoping to hear their names called as the winner of the SpaceX competition– put together by Musk– that grants the winning school/group an opportunity to design and build the pods used to transport passengers in SpaceX’s Hyperloop.

According to the SpaceX site, neither the company nor its owner, Musk, are developing a commercial Hyperloop, and specifies their interest in “helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype.”

Thus, the purpose of the competition, which was geared towards students and independent engineering teams, was an attempt to have the greatest minds construct the best Hyperloop pod.

In the end, it was the Boston-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology that came out on top, and will now be awarded the responsibility to create a transportation pod that is to be used on the one-mile Hyperlook test-track, that is currently under-construction, near SpaceX’s Hawthorne, CA headquarters.

MIT’s team consisted of 25 students across four different fields: aeronautics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and business management.

The Delft University of Technology from the Neatherlands came in second while Auburn University was awarded the best overall subsystem. The Verge also reported that other groups were awarded for their work in propulsion, design, levitation and braking at the ceremony, which included a surprise appearance by Musk himself, along with a speech by U.S. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx.

The two-day event was put together in an attempt to engage young engineers while generating a sense of excitement among the public for Musk’s new idea of transportation that requires individuals to be placed in a tube and shot off through a vacuum transport system.

“The public wants something new,” Musk told the attendees. “And you’re going to give it to them.”

Musk’s Hyperloop idea was first unveiled in the summer of 2013 via SpaceX’s website. According to his statement, the Hyperloop system would transport passengers in aluminum pods traveling as fast as 760 mph along Interstate Highway-5, based in California.

Estimated costs for the project were reported to be around $6 billion for the passenger-only model and $7.5 billion for a larger model capable of transporting goods.

This weekend’s event marked the first ever pod design competition held by SpaceX and was open to student teams from across the world. 160 university teams from 16 countries designed, built and will eventually test their pods at a 1 mile long test track in California, according to Musk.

As the event came to a close, the SpaceX executive promised to create and host more competitions for his Hyperlook project in the future.

“I really like the idea that you could live in one city, work in another city, and move fast enough that you could actually do that,” he said. “It would free people up.”

A list of other winners provided by Texas A&M University:

Best Overall Design Award: MIT Hyperloop Team, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Pod Innovation Award: Delft Hyperloop, Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands)
Pod Technical Excellence Award: Badgerloop, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Pod Technical Excellence Award: Hyperloop at Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech
Pod Technical Excellence Award: HyperXite, University of California Irvine

[AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File]

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