Hyperloop hits a new top speed: Prototype pod reaches 288 mph in Elon Musk’s competition

A team of college-aged engineers has broken a speed record for one of Elon Musk‘s Hyperloop pods in a test that topped 288 miles per hour.

The record was set as a part of a competition hosted by SpaceX, Musk’s private aerospace company, and marks the fourth consecutive occasion that the team has won.

The recent speed beats out the team’s previous test run by 4 mph and are carried out in a 1 mile test corridor near the company’s California headquarters.

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The winning pod (pictured) is roughly the size of a bobsled, and topped out at 288 miles per hour during Elon Musk's annual competition. It's the fourth time this team has won, despite a minor mishap in which it partially disassembled

The winning pod (pictured) is roughly the size of a bobsled, and topped out at 288 miles per hour during Elon Musk's annual competition. It's the fourth time this team has won, despite a minor mishap in which it partially disassembled

The winning pod (pictured) is roughly the size of a bobsled, and topped out at 288 miles per hour during Elon Musk’s annual competition. It’s the fourth time this team has won, despite a minor mishap in which it partially disassembled 

According to the team, from the Technical University of Munich, this year’s pod is equipped with several improvements including new batteries made from lithium polymers that save weight and a more advanced braking system that operates each brake independently.  

‘The Pod is the result of a four-year evolution, so to speak,’ said Team Manager Toni Jukic in a statement.

‘We learned every year and implemented the results. Even though we did not break the world record, achieving the fourth victory in the fourth race, is unbelievable. We are elated.’

The team was apparently awarded first place in the competition despite a minor mishap.  

Part of the pad spontaneously disassembled causing it to tumble through the test tube during the demonstration. 

A team of college-aged engineers has broken a Hyperloop record (their own), reaching a max speed of 288 miles per hour

A team of college-aged engineers has broken a Hyperloop record (their own), reaching a max speed of 288 miles per hour

A team of college-aged engineers has broken a Hyperloop record (their own), reaching a max speed of 288 miles per hour

The pod, roughly the size of a bobsled, still survived mostly intact. 

Hyperloop is a proposed method of travel that would transport people at roughly 700mph between distant locations.

It works by sealing in a vessel and then depressurizing the tube, making it close to a vacuum. 

The idea was unveiled by Elon Musk in 2013, who at the time said it could take passengers the 380 miles (610km) from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes — half the time it takes a plane.  

In a surprise announcement following the competition, Musk also revealed that next year’s competition will ratchet up the difficulty for teams looking to push the boundaries of high-speed transit.

Hyperloop is a proposed method of travel that would transport people at roughly 700mph between distant locations. Musk praised the winning team on Twitter

Hyperloop is a proposed method of travel that would transport people at roughly 700mph between distant locations. Musk praised the winning team on Twitter

Hyperloop is a proposed method of travel that would transport people at roughly 700mph between distant locations. Musk praised the winning team on Twitter

Musk's ultimate plan would see the construction of underground tunnels that connect swaths of the United States using high speed transit. Technical University of Munich took the top prize again this year

Musk's ultimate plan would see the construction of underground tunnels that connect swaths of the United States using high speed transit. Technical University of Munich took the top prize again this year

Musk’s ultimate plan would see the construction of underground tunnels that connect swaths of the United States using high speed transit. Technical University of Munich took the top prize again this year

According to the CEO, next year’s competition will both extend the test tube from one mile to six miles and will also add a curve to the run — a current version is a straight shot.

That competition will likely take place during the summer in 2020. 

Perhaps even more difficult than designing a vehicle capable of handling speeds that are about half that of sound, according to Musk, will be designing the tunnels that they’re meant to travel in.

Among the biggest obstacles will be getting the proper permits for digging tunnels of that length as well as properly reinforcing them to handle the stress. 

WHAT IS THE HYPERLOOP?

Hyperloop is a proposed method of travel that would transport people at roughly 700mph between distant locations.

It was unveiled by Elon Musk in 2013, who at the time said it could take passengers the 380 miles (610km) from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes – half the time it takes a plane.

It is essentially a long tube that has had the air removed to create a vacuum. For safety reasons, Hyperloop tunnels need escape hatches in case of fire. 

The tube is suspended off the ground to protect against weather and earthquakes. 

There are now a number of firms vying to bring the technology to life, including Elon Musk himself, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, and Virgin Hyperloop One.  

As several firms vie to create the first operational Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s vision of a radical transport system that could ferry passengers above land at 760 miles per hour continues to inch closer to reality

As several firms vie to create the first operational Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s vision of a radical transport system that could ferry passengers above land at 760 miles per hour continues to inch closer to reality

As several firms vie to create the first operational Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s vision of a radical transport system that could ferry passengers above land at 760 miles per hour continues to inch closer to reality

 

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