Space & Innovation

Maglev Pod Wins Hyperloop Design Competition

Nearly two dozen student teams won the chance to test their Hyperloop pod designs on a real track.

Nothing like getting super-smart students together to make the impossible seem attainable.

More than 100 teams from around the world just went head-to-head for the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition this past weekend. The prize: A chance to test their designs on a real track.

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After Musk announced his concept for a ground transportation system that sends pods down cylindrical tubes at incredible speeds back in 2013, the SpaceX CEO and CTO essentially invited everyone to share his vision. SpaceX launched a pod design competition for students last year.

At the same time, two independent companies began constructing Hyperloop test tracks. One is already making strides in the Nevada desert. Musk has also been working on a short test track next to SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., for the students' pods.

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The pod design contest was the ultimate nerd puzzle, and I mean that in a good way. Students concentrating in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and aeronautics came together at Texas A&M University to show off their concepts for the car that would take passengers on the 30-minute ride between San Francisco and LA.

The top prize went to the MIT Hyperloop Team's design for a 550-pound pod designed to go 360 feet per second. To achieve this, they called for a passive magnetic levitation system that has two arrays of 20 neodymium magnets - powerful rare-earth magnets. Retracting pod skis reduce drag, and low-speed wheels would allow the pod to keep moving in an emergency.

Even though they carried the day, the MIT team won't be the only student group heading to the track. About two dozen teams are advancing as well. Plus, early last year Musk wrote on Twitter that he envisions doing an annual Hyperloop pod-racer competition for students similar to the long-running Formula SAE Series.

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Musk himself even showed up at Texas A&M University on Saturday. "The public wants something new," he told the jubilant crowd, The Verge reported. "And you're going to give it to them."

The Hawthorne test track should be ready by the summer, when the top teams gather there for competition weekend. These kids are confident, too. They're already talking about boarding passes.

via The Verge

The Texas design consultancy argodesign imagines three-tiered Hyperloop terminals for loading passengers and cargo.