A team of engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US has won the first stage of the SpaceX Hyperloop design competition, which was held at Texas A&M University in College Station.
A high-speed transportation concept by Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Hyperloop will move pods of people at high speed.
More than 100 university teams worldwide presented design concepts for a vehicle, or pod, which will ride inside the Hyperloop, a system of tubes connecting major cities.
The international high-speed transportation competition was inspired by Elon Musk and sponsored by SpaceX.
The winning team will now move on to build a small-scale prototype of their design and test it later this year on a track being built next to the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
In 2013, Musk unveiled the new transport system called Hyperloop, which could transport passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 30 minutes.
Involving firing frictionless, magnetically levitated pod vehicles through a near-vacuum tunnel, the Hyperloop concept would be solar-powered, safe and reliable, regardless of weather conditions.
According to Musk, people and cars could be transported between cities inside aluminium pods at around 800mph inside elevated tubes by using magnets and fans to shoot capsules floating on a cushion of air.
With strengths in aeronautics, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering and computer science, the MIT Hyperloop Team focused on speed, braking, stability and levitation.
The team will now move from simulations to aluminium and carbon-fibre, trying out braking systems, and, with great caution, testing dangerously strong magnets, with final assembly expected to be completed by mid-May.
Musk noted that the Hyperloop system, which he said would cost about $6bn to implement between San Francisco and Los Angeles, could act as a fifth mode of mass transport after planes, trains, cars and boats.
If the transportation concept is implemented, it would allow passengers to travel the nearly 400 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 30 minutes, compared to an hour and 15 minutes by plane, and about two hours and 40 minutes with California’s planned high-speed rail line.
Around 70 pods would travel between the two cities every 30 seconds inside low-pressure tubes designed to reduce friction and allow higher speeds.
Image: MIT’s Hyperloop pod design. Photo: courtesy of MIT Hyperloop Team.