Hyperloop hits record speeds at SpaceX's 2019 Pod competition
Now in its fourth instalment, SpaceX's Hyperloop Pod competition continues to bring out the very best in student engineering teams from all around the world, with the 2019 edition again pushing the boundaries of the experimental transport technology. The reigning champions from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) returned to fend off their challengers, setting a new speed record in the process.
The SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition is a product of Elon Musk's vision for the futuristic transport system. A fully realized Hyperloop would shuttle people and goods through near-vacuum tubes at close to the speed of sound by packing them into purpose-built capsules, and there is no shortage of people trying to make it happen.
In addition to a number of private startups working on the technology, student engineering teams all around the world are working on propulsion systems and pod designs, and each year pit them against one another at SpaceX's Hyperloop Pod Competition.
Like earlier instalments, the 2019 edition places an emphasis on speed. Pods must be capable of propeling themselves through the mile-long (1.6 km) test tube up to a distance of 100 ft (30 m) from its end, and then safely bring themselves to a stop.
Forty-two teams took part in this year's contest, with the team from TUM again outstripping them all. Going by the name of WARR Hyperloop last year, the team set a record at the 2018 event when pushing its pod to an official top speed of 284 mph (457 km/h). It has bested that this time around by reaching a top speed of 288 mph (463 km/h).
The target speeds of a fully developed Hyperloop system sit at around 745 mph (1,200 km/h), so there is a bit of work to do before these technologies reach that goal. Virgin Hyperloop One, one of the startups developing its own Hyperloop system, has shuttled its full-scale test pod to speeds of 387 km/h (240 mph), so it too has a some strides to take before it starts selling tickets to ride.
But Elon Musk did say in the aftermath of the competition that the 2020 edition will allow team's more space to show what they can do.
"Next year's Hyperloop competition will be in a 10-km (6.2-mi) vacuum tunnel with a curve," he tweeted.