Hyperloop: 22 finalists picked to try out Elon Musk’s test track

We’re a step closer to Elon Musk’s vision for the future of transport: the Hyperloop. At an event at Texas A&M University, 115 teams were whittled down to just 22, who will be making the trip to test their designs on SpaceX’s custom built 1.5km track.

Hyperloop: 22 finalists picked to try out Elon Musk’s test track

Along with a long list of finalists, five teams were highlighted for having particularly strong entries. Judged by a panel made up of people from SpaceX and Tesla, as well as Texas A&M, each submission was judged on a variety of criteria including innovation, economics, adaptability, and feasibility.

The overall winner was from the MIT team, whose design outlined a 250kg pod with a carbon fibre and polycarbonate sheet exterior. It should have a passive magnetic levitation system made up of 20 neodymium magnets, allowing it to levitate 15mm above the track.hyperloop_contest_winners

The “Pod Innovation Award” was scooped by the Delft University of Technology, while three “Pod Technical Excellence Awards” were taken by Virginia Tech, California Irvine and the wonderfully named Badgerloop, from Wisconsin-Madison, who would surely also have snagged a “best-named design award”, if there were one.

They will join 17 other teams on SpaceX’s custom-built 1.5km test track this summer, but considering Musk’s 2013 white paper detailed a system that would send pods through low-friction tubes at over 700mph, it could literally be a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of event. Still, as first steps go, it’s pretty exciting and Musk made it clear at the event that this was just that: a first step.

“The tests on the 1.5km track, I think are going to be fairly interesting… and then maybe we’ll try and do a longer track, maybe five kilometres,” Musk mused in a question and answer session at the event. “Even if ultimately what gets built is something that’s quite different from what I wrote about in the paper, I think that’d still be great,” he added.

“I like the idea you could live in one city and work in another city, and can move fast enough that you can actually do that. It just gives people more freedom,” he added.

You can watch Musk’s full Q&A in the video below – he appears at 27:20.

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Images: Texas A&M Engineering, used under Creative Commons

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