A team of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) won the first stage of the SpaceX Hyperloop design contest (on Jan. 30). SpaceX Hyperloop was held at Texas A&M University in College Station.
More than one hundred teams participated in the competition. The passenger-carrying Hyperloop “pod” – which was designed by the MIT team – won the first stage of the competition. The students will start building a small-scale prototype, which will be tested this summer at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Philippe Kirschen, a master’s student in aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that over the past century, MIT has achieved many technological breakthroughs. It would only make sense that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also helps advance the future of transportation, he added.
In a 2013 paper, Elon Musk – the chief executive officer (CEO) and chief technology officer (CTO) of SpaceX, chairman of SolarCity, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, and co-chairman of OpenAI – put forward his vision for the Hyperloop, which is a conceptual high-speed transportation system.
The transportation system would incorporate reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules (or pods) would move people between cities that are about nine hundred miles (1,500 kilometres) apart.
According to Musk, the capsules would ride on an air cushion, and because of the very little friction they would travel at almost the speed of sound (767 mph, or 1,234 km/h, at sea level). Although Musk envisioned an air cushion, students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decided to go with magnets placed above a conducting plate.
The prototype Hyperloop pod of the MIT team will be about three feet (one metre) wide, eight feet (two and a half metres) long, and will weigh over five hundred pounds (two hundred and fifty kilograms), according to Kirschen. The high-speed transportation system shall also accommodate a mechanical pusher to have better propulsion.
Students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will have to assemble their prototype Hyperloop pod by mid-May. During the twenty-second inaugural run, the vehicle will likely reach the speed of at least 225 miles per hour (362 km/h). The inaugural run will not carry any passengers.
Image Source: popsci