Later this year, dozens of college teams from around the world will travel to Hawthorne, California to compete in a high-stakes contest to prove Elon Musk’s vision of super-fast, super-sustainable, tube-based transportation known as the Hyperloop.
The teams were chosen last January in SpaceX’s Hyperloop pod design competition held at Texas A&M University.
From over 120 schools, 29 college teams (plus one high school team and one non-student team that formed on Reddit) were picked to advance to the next round. They are now building fully functional, three-fourth scale models of their pods to test on SpaceX’s one-mile track. It’s unlikely that any of the pods will get up to the Hyperloop’s theoretical full speed of 760 mph, but the shot of adrenaline to the burgeoning Hyperloop industry should be huge.
The exact date and location of the contest haven’t been revealed yet. SpaceX is shooting for early-to-mid-August, according to leaked emails sent to the teams. That date, however, will depend on construction and testing of the track. Still, all the teams are hard at work, fueled by their collective excitement of being at the vanguard of a new form of transportation. (In his original paper outlining the Hyperloop, Musk described it as “the fifth mode of transportation.)
“There are so many unknowns because this is the first year of the competition, and the first time anything like this has been done,” said Grace Everitt, a member of the University of Florida’s Gatorloop team, “but it's thrilling to be part of the first wave of the revolution.”
We asked some of the teams to send us their designs. Here’s what we got.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Hyperloop Team took home the top prize in the Design and Build category.
- Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands came in second.
- BadgerLoop, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received the Pod Technical Excellence award for its design.
- Virginia Tech's Vhyper team came in fourth, and received $20,000 from Hyperloop One to build its pod.
- The University of California-Irvine's HyperXite team says its pod's aerodynamic design is crafted after an airplane's wing.
- Carnegie Mellon University's team updated their pod design after the competition.
- Keio Alpha is the only team from Japan invited to participate in the competition.
- The University of Cincinnati's team say they will achieve magnetic levitation using the Arx Pax hover engines.
- Auburn University's team won the best overall subsystem award.
- Australian team VicHyper won the award for best braking subsystem.
- The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Mercury Three team says it will use magnetic levitation to maintain a gap height above a fixed rail, allowing for extremely low friction and comfortable transport.
- RUMD Loop is a joint team between University of Maryland and Rutgers University.
- Waterloop, from the University of Waterloo, says its designed air caster levitation system will be able to handle a total of 12,000 lbs.
- OpenLoop is a consortium of six schools: Cornell University, Harvey Mudd College, University of Michigan, Northeastern University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Princeton University.
- The University of Florida's Gatorloop team is one of the few to attach wheels to their pod, which they say allows for a trusted backup braking method.
- Drexel University's team is compromised of over 80 students.
- HyperLynx from the University of Colorado Denver is also one of the few to use wheels.
- WARR Hyperloop from the Technical University of Munich in Germany say their pod can achieve a speed of 220 mph. The team is one of the few to have a compressor in the final round
- Lehigh University's team say their pod is handicap accessible.
- The University of Southern California's team say a key aspect of their design is safety.
- HyperLift is the only high school team to advance to the second round. They are from St. John's High School in Houston, Tex.
- Reddit's rLoop is the only non-student team to participate in the SpaceX competition. The team's pod achieves levitation via the Arx Pax magnetic levitation engines.
- The University of Washington's hyperloop team is comprised of 67 students, who so far have worked a total of 82,300 hours on their design.