Hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and freight transportation that would propel a pod-like vehicle through a reduced-pressure tube that could potentially exceed airliner speeds.
SpaceX is revolutionizing terrestrial transportation through its Hyperloop transportation services. The company currently provides these services to innovators and universities interested in high-speed transportation technology and solutions. The Hyperloop system built by SpaceX at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, is approximately one mile in length with a six foot outer diameter.
In January 2017, SpaceX offered its Hyperloop transportation services to 27 teams from across the country and world in the first Hyperloop Pod Competition at the SpaceX track. The competition’s goal is to accelerate the development of functional prototypes and encourage innovation by challenging teams to design and build the best high-speed pod. Teams put their pods through a litany of tests, which was made possible through our Hyperloop system. This competition was the first of its kind anywhere in the world.
Based on the high-quality submissions and overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding the first competition, SpaceX has moved forward with Hyperloop Pod Competition II, which will culminate in a second competition on August 25-27, 2017, at SpaceX’s Hyperloop track. Hyperloop Competition II focus on a single criterion: maximum speed. The competition will include new and returning student teams, some of which have already built and tested their pods during the first competition.
Is there truly a new mode of transport – a fifth mode after planes, trains, cars and boats – that meets those criteria and is practical to implement? Many ideas for a system with most of those properties have been proposed and should be acknowledged, reaching as far back as Robert Goddard’s to proposals in recent decades by the Rand Corporation and ET3.
Unfortunately, none of these have panned out. As things stand today, there is not even a short distance demonstration system operating in test pilot mode anywhere in the world, let alone something that is robust enough for public transit. They all possess, it would seem, one or more fatal flaws that prevent them from coming to fruition.
Constraining the Problem
The Hyperloop (or something similar) is, in my opinion, the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart. Around that inflection point, I suspect that supersonic air travel ends up being faster and cheaper. With a high enough altitude and the right geometry, the sonic boom noise on the ground would be no louder than current airliners, so that isn’t a showstopper. Also, a quiet supersonic plane immediately solves every long distance city pair without the need for a vast new worldwide infrastructure.
However, for a sub several hundred mile journey, having a supersonic plane is rather pointless, as you would spend almost all your time slowly ascending and descending and very little time at cruise speed. In order to go fast, you need to be at high altitude where the air density drops exponentially, as air at sea level becomes as thick as molasses (not literally, but you get the picture) as you approach sonic velocity.
COMPETITION WEEKEND II TEAM ROSTER (AS OF APRIL 2017)
|512 Hyperloop||University of Texas at Austin|
|AZLoop||Arizona State University; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Northern Arizona University; Thunderbird School of Global Management|
|Badgerloop||University of Wisconsin-Madison|
|Binghamton Hyperloop||Binghamton University|
|DiggerLoop||Colorado School of Mines|
|Hornet Hyperloop||California State University, Sacramento|
|HYPED||University of Edinburgh|
|Hyper Poland University Team||Warsaw University of Technology|
|Hyperloop India||BITS Pilani|
|HyperPod||University of Applied Sciences Emden-Leer; University of Oldenburg|
|HyperXite||University of California, Irvine|
|Illini Hyperloop||University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign|
|Keio Alpha||Keio University|
|Michigan Hyperloop||University of Michigan, Ann Arbor|
|Paradigm||Northeastern University; Memorial University of Newfoundland|
|Purdue and UPV Atlantic Hyperloop Design Team||Purdue University; Universitat Politecnica de Valencia|
|Texas Guadaloop||University of Texas at Austin|
|UCSB Hyperloop II||University of California, Santa Barbara|
|UMD Loop||University of Maryland|
|University of Washington||University of Washington|
|Hyperloop at Virginia Tech||Virginia Tech|
|WARR Hyperloop||Technical University of Munich|
August 31, 2016Competition II Rules and Requirements Released