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The fastest ever Hyperloop pod shoots to victory at over 200mph

29 August 2017

Speeding along at 201mph, the second pod made by the WARR Hyperloop team shot through the tube test facility at the Los Angeles corporate premises of SpaceX.

The pod heading into the tunnel (Credit: WARR Hyperloop/flicker)

This meant the students from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) were able to repeat their victory from the first competition. Elon Musk followed the test run after which he congratulated the Munich students in person.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk launched the "Hyperloop Pod Competition" in 2015. The Hyperloop is a concept for a high-speed train which is to travel through a tube containing a partial vacuum at close to the speed of sound. Student teams from around the world have been called on to submit their concepts for what is referred to as the pod, the cabin capsule in which the passengers will be transported through the tube. 

Two main prizes were awarded in the first competition, which was held in January 2017: A main prize for the fastest pod, which the WARR Hyperloop team from TU Munich won, and a main prize for the best overall concept, which went to the Delft University of Technology. The second competition was however solely devoted to the highest speed.

More than 20 teams came to Los Angeles for the competition, where they tested the pods in the tube test facility which had been constructed on the SpaceX premises especially for the competition. Only three teams were able to pass the rigorous technical pre-tests in order to qualify for the final. In addition to the WARR Hyperloop team, the other two qualifiers were Paradigm Hyperloop, a team from Northeastern University and the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the Swissloop team from the Swiss technical university ETH Zurich.

The Swissloop pod reached a speed of 25mph in the vacuum tube, with the Paradigm Hyperloop pod making 63mph. The WARR Hyperloop team was the last to go. Its Pod was one of the smallest in the competition, weighing only 80kg and driven by a 50kW electric motor. The concept paid off: In the tube the pod was able to accelerate to 201mph, making it by far the fastest in the competition.

The 1.25km test tube adjacent to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Los Angeles has been built specifically for the Hyperloop Pod Competition. The tube is depressurised, reducing air resistance during the high-speed run. With the team gathered round control tent at the tube end, and after waiting 15 minutes for air to be removed from the tube, WARR Hyperloop operators performed a successful launch sequence and the pre-programmed control sequence took over. The pod continued to accelerate for a full three quarters of the tube length, and after reaching 201mph the brakes kicked in to stop the pod in around three seconds.

Initiator Elon Musk arrived at the competition in time to watch the final competitors and spoke to the crowd about the Hyperloop concept and why he decided to instigate the competition. The founder chatted with the WARR Hyperloop team as they prepared for launch and described their run as “amazing”.

Video courtesy of WARR Hyperloop

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