MIT Wins The SpaceX Hyperloop Competition, But Are We Ready To Ride Hyper Rails?

The latest crazy idea from Elon Musk that many said was never going to come together just took another step towards becoming a reality. In 2013 Musk released his open source plans for what he called a Hyperloop – a low pressure high speed mass transit system that could theoretically get passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes. Read more on his specs here.

The naysayers were quick to call the project a pipe dream, which seems kinda appropriate since the Hyperloop would literally be a giant pipe running alongside the I-5 freeway. Or at least that’s what Musk’s vision of what it eventually could be. For now he’s building a test Hyperloop track near SpaceX headquarters in California and setting up engineering competitions to see who gets to build the first pod for it.

That competition went down Saturday night at Texas A&M, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology won the Overall Design Award. Here’s a blurb from their Hyperloop team’s webpage on their pod:

Our primary goal is to demonstrate high speed, low drag levitation technology. We aim to build a light pod to allow us to achieve the highest cruise speed. Pending SpaceX launcher specifications, our 250kg pod should be accelerated at 2.4G to a max speed of 110m/s.

The pod will utilize a passive magnetic levitation system that incorporates two arrays of 20 neodymium magnets. After liftoff, the pod will maintain a 15mm levitation gap height at cruising speed and a peak lift-to-drag ratio of 14.

The pod’s shell will be composed of woven carbon fiber and polycarbonate sheets. With the lowest tube pressure available (140 Pa), this shape will have only 2N aerodynamic drag at 110 m/s.

Elon Musk showed up at the Texas A&M competition and took some time to answer a variety of questions. The most interesting? What “crazy idea” he’s working on now: Musk said he’s close to figuring out how to make electric jets feasible. Just another impossible sounding bit of technology that may soon be possible. I don’t think there’s anyone out there that’s contributed more to making The Jetsons a reality than Elon Musk.

(Via The Verge)