This weekend, a MIT team’s Hyperloop pod design won first round of SpaceX competition beating out over 100 teams. With the new MIT design, SpaceX co-founder and CEO Elon Musk’s plans to create a system of public transportation that works at neck-breaking speeds looks on the fast track to become reality.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s team of grad students won the competition on Saturday at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. Nevertheless, the design competition is not over yet since this was only the first stage.
The winning team is now expected to work on a small-scale prototype of the pod, which would be put to a test at the private spaceflight company’s headquarters by the end of this summer.
Philippe Kirschen, one of the members of the MIT team and an aeronautics master’s student, noted that it is not the first time the institute contributes to a major technological breakthrough in recent years. Kirschen added that the hyperloop transit system could become the’ future of transportation’ and his team takes great pride in making it happen.
The idea of a Hyperloop system first emerged in 2013. Back then, Musk envisioned a system that would consist in pods that travel in mile-long tubes at mind-blowing speeds. These pods would ferry commuters in near-vacuum conditions between locations that are up to 900 miles apart.
Since the pods have no contact with the ground, they could travel close to the speed of sound, i.e. nearly 767 mph. In Musk’s 2013 vision, the transportation vehicles would levitate through cushions of air. But the MIT team, thought that magnets would be a wiser alternative.
MIT engineers envisioned the pods traveling above conducting plates using magnets. A SpaceX team is already working on an aluminum track where the MIT pod is expected to be tested this summer.
The MIT team said that their system is extremely scalable because it is wholly passive. The pod should be 8.2 foot-long and 3.3 foot-wide, and it would be shaped as a bobsled to make it more aerodynamic.
It would also feature a mechanical pusher and multiple sensors. The prototype should be ready by mid-May and it could reach an initial speed of 225 mph during its first test-run. The tests will not involve carrying human passengers, the MIT team announced.
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