In January, SpaceX held its very first Hyperloop Pod Competition in its headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Last weekend, Elon Musk welcomed more than twenty returning and new teams of students from all across the world for a second round. Unlike Competition I where several categories were rewarded, this time the single criterion was speed.
Similar to Weekend I, three teams were allowed to race their pods in the 0.75 mile long Hyperloop tube. On Saturday, the students presented their capsules to a jury who determined which teams could go on the track the next day. Different criteria such as assembling, safety and design were tested – and at the end, only the North American Paradigm team, the Swissloop team, and the German team Warr made the cut. The competition was limited because of the time of the intensive process – placing a pod in the Hyperloop takes at least 45 minutes because of the depressurization process during which the air is pumped out of the tube to reduce friction.
All eyes on Warr
During this second competition, all eyes were on Warr. The team from the Technical University of Munich was awarded the distinction of having the fastest pod in January when it reached 94 kph (58 mph). On Sunday, the team had one goal in mind: maximum speed.
Team Warr’s Lars Frölich, an engineering student, told us, “Our new pod is significantly smaller than the first one, which means it is optimized for speed. We tried to reduce the weight as much as possible.” But, just like the first pod, the new one is built on wheels. “We don’t have any levitation system built in; there are no magnets.” Since it worked so well on the first pod, team Warr was feeling quite confident. “There is always some technical difficulties but I believe we have a decent chance to win,” Lars added.
And indeed, after some technical issues that made us hold our breath, Warr launched the promising pod in the Hyperloop tube. Drum roll, drum roll… the capsule reached the impressive speed of 324 kph (201 mph)! Needless to say that Elon Musk was very impressed by this outstanding performance.
Elon Musk seemed really proud of all the hard work accomplished by the students. In a short speech, the SpaceX CEO said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if at some point we were able to get at 600 kph or maybe more.”
For Musk, the Hyperloop concept is all about advancing the state of transportation. “It’s about trying new things that have not been done before that can make an incredible difference in people’s lives,” he said.
“The reason I love this thing is because it makes me excited to wake up in the morning,” Musk continued. “There are a lot of problems in this world so if we don’t have things to inspire us, what’s the point of living?”
On that philosophic note, let’s close the Hyperloop Pod Competition II chapter and mention that Weekend III is already booked for next year. Just like for the next Game of Thrones season, we can’t wait!
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