Quantcast
Business

MIT Students Win Elon Musk's Hyperloop Design Competition

A team of student engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology won Best Overall Design in SpaceX's competition to design a pod for a Hyperloop system that would transport people through high-speed vacuum tubes.

"The public wants something new," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told the attendees at this first-ever competition on Saturday at Texas A&M University. "And you're going to give it to them."

Elon Musk spoke to teams of student engineers at the end of the Hyperloop design competition at Texas A&M University on Saturday. Photo credit: Flickr / Texas A&M University

More than 115 student engineering teams representing 27 U.S. states and 20 countries competed. Musk challenged the teams to "design a passenger pod to run in the Hyperloop, a low-pressure tube between LA and San Francisco which will use a railgun to rocket passengers between the two cities at supersonic speeds," according to The Guardian.

Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands finished second, the University of Wisconsin third, Virginia Tech fourth and the University of California, Irvine, fifth.

The top 22 teams will build their pods and test them this summer at what Texas A&M called the "world's first Hyperloop test track"—a one-mile track being built next to SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. "The prototype pods would be half the size of the system that Musk envisioned and would not carry people," Phys.org noted.

One of the pod designs from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Hyperloop Team. Photo credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The idea for the Hyperloop was popularized by Musk in a 2013 Tesla blog post, in which the entrepreneur outlined his rough plans of how the system would work.

Read page 1

Musk explained in the post that he was "quite disappointed" with the state of California for approving a "high speed" rail project that was "one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world."

He wrote:

The underlying motive for a statewide mass transit system is a good one. It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving. The train in question would be both slower, more expensive to operate (if unsubsidized) and less safe by two orders of magnitude than flying, so why would anyone use it?

If we are to make a massive investment in a new transportation system, then the return should by rights be equally massive.

Musk went on to explain the technical feasibility of transporting people in pods through a vacuum tube at roughly 700 miles per hour.

"The proposal was quickly criticized by experts in the field, who questioned Musk's figures on the cost of land by a highway, the price of concrete and the thermal expansion of steel," The Guardian said. "But in the following years multiple companies picked up Musk's concept and developed it further."

Various private companies, notably Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop Technologies, have set out to make Musk's vision a reality. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies sought permits last week to build a 5-mile test track along Interstate 5 in Central California. And Hyperloop Technologies has already begun construction on a test track in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

And now it appears the federal government is interested in a Hyperloop system. U.S. Sec. of Transportation Anthony Foxx spoke at the competition on Friday, telling participants that "the idea merits consideration for a public-private partnership to develop it further," Ars Technica reported.

“When I first heard about the Hyperloop, I was less than enthusiastic," Foxx said. “Reflexively, I felt this proposal was impractical. Then I began to think, what if there had been a secretary of transportation when the automobile was first built or the airplane invented with that attitude? I feel that we have in our department a responsibility not just to continue the traditional forms of transportation, but a responsibility to nudge the future of transportation along."

Watch Musk speak at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design Competition awards ceremony at Texas A&M University:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

This Solar Road Will Provide Power to 5 Million People

Elon Musk vs. Warren Buffett: The Billionaire Battle Over the Future of Solar Power

Elon Musk: 'You Can Easily Power All of China With Solar'

Huge Hydropower Plant to Harness Seawater and Solar Power in South America's Driest Desert

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
Storage solutions, such as Tesla's Powerwall domestic battery, are "moving from the grid to the garage to the landing at home." Tesla Motors

Battery Storage Revolution Could 'Sound the Death Knell for Fossil Fuels'

If we want to accelerate the world's renewable energy transition, we'll have to modernize the electric grid and we'll need much better batteries. Just look at Germany, which generates so much clean energy on particularly windy and sunny days that electricity prices are often negative.

Sure this is good news for a German person's wallet, but as the New York Times noted, "Germany's power grid, like most others around the world, has not yet adapted to the increasing amounts of renewable energy being produced."

Keep reading... Show less

The Future of Food: 8 Business Leaders Investing to End Slaughterhouses

From Silicon Valley tech moguls to business executives and entrepreneurs, these people know that the future of food means not slaughtering animals.

Keep reading... Show less

Oil Spill Spreading in East China Sea 'Now the Size of Paris'

By Andy Rowell

There are increasing environmental and health concerns surrounding the oil spill in the East China Sea from the Iranian registered tanker, the Sanchi, which sank on Monday carrying 136,000 tons, or one million barrels, of a highly flammable oil mix called condensate.

The tanker had burned for a week before exploding after colliding with another ship on Jan. 6, with all 32 crew now presumed dead or missing.

Keep reading... Show less

‘Tide Pod Challenge’ Highlights Danger of Colorful Laundry Packets

By Samara Geller

An unbelievably dumb and extremely dangerous dare has gone viral on social media. It's the "Tide Pod Challenge": biting down on the small, colorful—and potentially poisonous—packets of liquid laundry detergent until they burst in your mouth. Children, teens and young adults are posting videos of themselves taking the challenge—with the gagging, spitting and coughing that follows.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Arizona lost out on $27 million of revenue during the 2013 government shutdown, with the Grand Canyon alone amounting for $17 million of it. Anna Irene / Flickr

National Parks, Monuments May Remain Open But Unstaffed if Government Shuts Down

You might want to reconsider your plans if you intend to visit a national park this weekend. While the park might be open, there probably won't be any rangers on site, which could pose a serious risk to safety.

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to keep many national parks and monuments open if the government shuts down on Friday, the Washington Post reported. The move is meant to avoid the public outrage sparked by the closure of parks and memorials during the 2013 shutdown.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure

Divers Discover World’s Largest Flooded Cave

Diving enthusiasts, could this be your next great adventure?

Archaeologists and divers with Gran Acuífero Maya (GAM)—a project dedicated to the study and preservation of the Yucatan peninsula—claim to have discovered the world's longest underwater cave just outside of Tulum, Mexico.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Pexels

3 Reasons to Be Hopeful About Our P​lanet in 2018

By Elizabeth Sturcken

Feeling down about our planet in 2018? Don't!

There are many reasons to be hopeful around environmental action in the new year—and if the following developments don't make you feel better, I've prescribed some action steps at the end that are guaranteed to set you on a healthier, happier path.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!