Engineering students from Munich, Germany, recently set a hyperloop speed record during a competition run by SpaceX. The Hyperloop consists of a passenger-carrying pod that moves through tunnels at extremely high speeds.
The German team’s pod travelled at 284 mph (457 km/h) on a 1.2km (0.75 mile) test track–much faster than competing teams, reported The Verge.
This is the third consecutive time that the Technical University of Munich team has won the competition, which is held in California. Student teams from all over the world participated in the event.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk started getting serious about the Hyperloop in 2012. His vision is for the pods to travel in sealed tunnels at speeds of more than 1,000km/h.
There are some concerns about the cost of a hyperloop and whether it’s technically possible to build it. Musk orchestrated competitions like this to drum up interest and development in the system.
Warr Hyperloop, the winning team, easily beat the speeds of its competitors, including Delft University in the Netherlands, whose hyperloop travelled at 88mph, and Swiss team EPF Loop, which managed a speed of 55mph. The Munich team topped its previous record from September 2017 (323km/h).
This time around, the rules required the pods be self-propelled. In previous competitions, teams were allowed to use SpaceX-built “pusher” vehicles, noted The Verge.
Musk, his girlfriend Claire Elise Boucher, and his five sons made a surprise appearance at the competition and offered some encouragement.
“This is really the first opportunity to create a new mode of transport,” Musk told The Verge. “That’s really what this competition is about – things that could radically transform cities and the way people get around.”
Several startups not affiliated with SpaceX are currently working on constructing real hyperloop systems. Where would a hyperloop be useful? Musk envisions a 30-minute trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He’s also discussed the possibility of building a hyperloop from New York City to Washington, D.C.