In 2013, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled the concept of the Hyperloop: pressurized pods that travel faster than an airplane on a cushion of air. The idea, of course, is to revolutionize transportation. Using the hyperloop anyone could commute from San Francisco to L.A. in 30 minutes. Moreover, when completed it might even be free.

 Capsules float by pumping air through side channels to overcome gravity. Giant energy efficient motors and pumps propel the capsule through a very low pressure tube. The low pressure allows the tube to move at 740 miles per hour.

Capsules float by pumping air through side channels to overcome gravity. Giant energy efficient motors and pumps propel the capsule through a very low pressure tube. The low pressure allows the tube to move at 740 miles per hour.

This Saturday, 1,000 high school and college kids gathered at Texas A&M University to see which team was awarded the winning prize for a Hyperloop prototype. First prize went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s team, followed by Delft University of Technology from the Netherlands, the University of Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and the University of California, Irvine, in this order.

MIT's design for the Hyperloop. Image: MIT

MIT’s design for the Hyperloop. Image: MIT

The winning teams will get to have their concepts built and tested on at the world’s first Hyperloop Test Track, being built adjacent to SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters. These will be manufactured as soon as possible and slated for testing in April.

To everyone’s surprise, Musk himself appeared on stage thanking everyone for their hard work and enthusiasm.

“The public wants something new,” Musk told the attendees. “And you’re going to give it to them.”

MIT’s design involves a 550-pound pod which can accelerate at 2.4G to a maximum speed of 250mph. The Hyperloop should eventually propel pods at more than 750mph, but for the prototype stage it’s enough to start slower. Not that many details are available, yet. It’s great to see that things are coming along.

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