Hyperloop – MIT engineers win prototype design contest

Elon Musk’s vision for a hyperloop system has come one step closer to reality after a team of MIT engineers won the first prototype design competition.

Engineers from around the country met this weekend to submit their designs for a hyperloop prototype to a competition at Texas A&M University. According to a report from Gizmodo, a team representing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the official winner of the contest, bringing the hyperloop system one step closer to reality.

The winning team of the contest will have the opportunity to build a vehicle that Elon Musk himself will test. The team’s stated goal on their website was to “demonstrate high speed, low drag levitation technology. The team’s design included a 550-pound pod that has the ability to accelerate at 2.4G to a top speed of 250 mph. The team announced that they will begin construction of the pod starting this month, hoping to have it ready for test runs by this coming April.

MIT wasn’t the only school whose design wowed the judges at the prototype competition. Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands came in second place, and a team from the University of Wisconsin nabbed third place. Virginia Tech and the University of California, Irvine rounded out the top five, and these teams are expected to contribute designs of their own to be tested in the near future as well.

The hyperloop is an innovative public transportation system concept that would dramatically reduce the inefficiencies of the nation’s current rail and subway system. Conceived by Elon Musk, it would incorporate reduced-pressure tubes inside of which pressurized capsules would travel over an air cushion, propelled by linear induction motors and air compressors. Currently, tracks and capsules have been designed and developed, and a full-scale prototype is expected to roll out sometime this year.

The system would initially run from San Francisco to Los Angeles, following the path of Interstate 5. The 354 mile journey is expected to take only 35 minutes, drastically reducing transport time between the two cities.

A press release from Texas A&M describing the recent competition can be found here.

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