A team of students from the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, won SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition, which happened this past weekend in Los Angeles.
Just outside SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, the Hyperloop test track was awaiting. It had been a year since SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had encouraged engineering students from universities around the world to design and construct pods for Hyperloop — the futuristic transport system that could propel people and goods through low-pressure tubes at nearly supersonic speed, an idea which Musk himself had put on paper, back in 2013.
More than one hundred teams responded to the challenge in January 2016 by sharing their pod designs, but only 27 were able to move on to the build phase, which ended with the Competition Weekend (27-29 January 2017). Over the last weekend, these teams have put their pods to the test hoping to finally make it onto the 1,2-kilometre (1 mile) test track itself.
In the end, it came down to three teams, who actually hit the track with their prototypes: the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), the WARR Hyperloop from the Technical University of Munich (Germany), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT (USA).
A panel judged the half-scaled pods based on criteria including reliability, design and scalability, with the Delft University of Technology earning the Overall Prize.
“It was precisely this award that we had set our sights on”, explained Delft Hyperloop team captain Tim Houter. “We tried to focus on every aspect and to create a pod that could be easily scaled-up”.
The TU Delft team also received the Design and Construction Award. As for the other teams, students from the University of Munich built the fastest pod, while the MIT won the Safety & Reliability Award.
Even though Elon Musk has decided not to develop the Hyperloop technology, this competition is proof that SpaceX is still an active part in the history of the high-speed transport system. With this competition, the company wants to “help accelerate the development of a functional Hyperloop prototype” and, at the same time, “to encourage student innovation”.
While the first part of the competition was judged based on multiple criteria, SpaceX will be hosting a second instalment this summer focused only on maximum speed. This second instalment of the competition is open to first-timers and to teams who have already built and tested pods, and want to further refine their designs.
The video below shows the three track flights by the winning teams.