A team of German students have won the third annual SpaceX Hyperloop competition – their third win in a row – and set a new Hyperloop record in the process.
WARR Hyperloop from the Technical University of Munich beat two other finalists with a top speed of 457 kilometers (284 miles) per hour, about half the speed of a jumbo jet. They were testing their pods in a tube 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) long at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California on Sunday, July 22.
The pod traveled 50 percent faster than the previous top speed set by WARR in the last competition in August 2017. Their winning speed in the inaugural competition in January 2017 was just 93 km/h (58 mph), so they've achieved a pretty impressive increase in a year and a half.
Hundreds of students from around the world gathered to see the event. WARR were up against Delft University from the Netherlands and EPF Loop from Switzerland, both of whom struggled to get anywhere near WARR’s speed. Delft University set a speed of just 142 km/h (88 mph) before stalling, while EPF Loop was only able to reach speeds of 89 km/h (55 mph).
To win the competition, the pods must be self-propelled and accelerate from a standstill. The pods are magnetically levitated on a rail, with maximum speed down the tunnel the ultimate goal.
While WARR now holds the worldwide Hyperloop record, their pod is just 30 centimeters (12 inches) high and 2 meters (7 feet) long. In December 2017, a full-sized pod from Virgin Hyperloop One hit a speed of 387 km/h (240 mph). New Atlas described the two as “apples and oranges”.
But WARR sees its pod as a demonstration of what could be possible. In a press release prior to the event, they said they had been hoping to reach 600 km/h (370 mph), but their final speed of 457 km/h is still impressive considering the challenges.
“[T]he pod has to accelerate to full speed and then brake again within this distance,” they said. “This is a gigantic challenge: Our pod accelerates five times faster than an airplane during take-off.”
The ultimate goal of Hyperloop, as first proposed by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in 2013, is to send pods in vacuum-sucked tubes at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h (745 mph), enabling travel between cities in minutes rather than hours.
Multiple efforts, including SpaceX’s competition, Virgin Hyperloop One, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, are now being made to achieve this goal. This latest record is another tentative step towards making Hyperloop a reality.