A group of 25 engineering students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) won the Best Overall Design Award at SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition over the weekend.
Michael Grothaus of Fast Company reports that the MIT Hyperloop Team students designed a pod that travels via Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system envisioned by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in 2013 as a series of tubes that carry passengers in pods at up to 700 miles an hour. According to CBS, Musk imagines that the “pods” will be able to carry 20 to 30 people through a 12-foot diameter tube.
The MIT team beat out more than 115 other teams with over 1,000 students representing various universities and colleges across the world putting forth their Hyperloop pod designs.
The results were announced at Texas A&M University. Deft University of Technology in the Netherlands finished in second place followed by the University of Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, and University of California, Irvine.
The winning team said that their design “is to demonstrate high-speed, low-drag levitation technology,” which relies on a magnetic levitation system that keeps the pod 15 millimeters above the Hyperloop tube’s surface. The pod itself is constructed from carbon fiber and polycarbonate sheets and weighs 250 kilograms. In case of emergency, the pod includes a braking system that will automatically activate and, if necessary, would be able to drive the pod backward through physical wheels.
The competitors were judged on a variety of criteria, such as “innovation and uniqueness of design; full Hyperloop system applicability and economics; level of design detail; strength of supporting analysis and tests; feasibility for test track competition; and quality of documentation and presentation,” according to the competition’s website.
Musk, who made an unannounced appearance at the award ceremony, praised all of the teams involved and said that he is “starting to think this is really gonna happen. It’s clear that the pubic and the world wants something new, and I think you guys are going to bring it to them.” While public Hyperloop tracks are years, if not decades, away from being built, transportation companies have already begun thinking about the future of transportation systems.
According to Tech Times, the competition strives to excite engineers and raise awareness about the highly advanced transport system introduced by SpaceX in 2013. The event’s participants hope that, if nothing else, the event will tamper critics who charge that the system is too impractical and expensive to develop. The estimated cost of the Hyperloop is $6 billion for the passenger type and $7.5 million for system that would serve as a freight transport vehicle.
Trevor Mogg of Digital Trends writes that the winning team and the additional 21 teams that fared favorably must now find funding sources to build their prototypes, which will be tested out later this year on the world’s first Hyperloop Test Track being constructed adjacent to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California — and the tech community already brimming with anticipation.