MIT Students Win Elon Musk's Hyperloop Compeititon
When Elon Musk first released the concept of the Hyperloop, we figured Musk had created an entirely new industry that he could master. But to the surprise many, he opened up the technology to the world, and several companies are working on prototypes. It has also spawned a over a hundred collegiate teams, which just competed for the top Hyperloop design going forward. 124 teams, to be exact, assembled at Texas A&M for an event called the Hyperloop Pod Competition. The first competition of its kind, it featured the aforementioned collegiate teams as well as three high school teams, all presenting a design for a capsule or pod that could carry passengers or cargo the Hyperloop tube system. Of the 124 teams, 22 won the chance to test their designs in California in June, in a Hyperloop test track being built by SpaceX. RELATED: As Hyperloop Ramps up, Land Rights and Regulation Remain Massive Obstacles
The winner of the final 22 was a design by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but here’s the funny thing–it can’t hold cargo or people. MIT’s designed differed from that of other teams in a couple of ways. First, to understand the changes, the Hyperloop design consists of an elevated tube with very low air pressure, which means little air resistance and very high speeds. Propulsion would be along the lines of a maglev system.
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According to Wired, MIT’s team constructed a 550-pound aluminum pod that is scalable in design. It features two arrays of 20 neodymium magnets to levitate on the track (many of the other designs used air bearings–think air hockey table), and at low speeds, wheels would deploy to roll up to the station. A hydraulic braking system grabs the track, bringing the pod to a stop at up to 2.5 G’s–a requirement of the SpaceX specs.
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So why no people or cargo? It was all a matter of time. The MIT team wanted to create the best possible design in the limited time allotted. That meant creating a scale model that gave up on certain creature comforts. Now that the team has been chosen, they have until June to scale that design up and find place for cargo and people.