Student-built Hyperloop pod smashes speed record

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

A group of students from the Technical University of Munich taking part in the third SpaceX run Hyperloop Pod Competition have set a new speed record. The WARR Hyperloop team's pod hit 290mph on the 0.75-mile test track, the third speed record for the German team in a successive number of test runs.

The competition saw 20 student teams from universities around the world gather in California to put their prototype pods through their paces.

The idea for hyperloop, which would see pods speed through a sealed tunnel to reduce friction or air resistance, has been around for decades and was revived by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2012.

Critics have voiced concerns about the potential cost of building a large hyperloop and whether its technical demands can be met.

Musk’s SpaceX company has run a series of competitions since 2015 to drive development of the concept.

In a change from earlier competitions, all the pods being tested this time had to be self-propelled rather than relying on a ‘pusher’ vehicle that has helped them travel down the test tube in previous tests.

The WARR Hyperloop pod used eight small electric motors that each produced 240kW to get it to 290mph, 50mph faster than Virgin Hyperloop One’s pod, which topped out at 240mph in December 2017. WARR Hyperloop’s rival capsules could only manage speeds of only 88mph (Delft University) and 55mph (EPF Loop, from Switzerland).

“This is really the first opportunity to create a new mode of transport,” said Musk, who made a visit to the site for the tests. “That's really what this competition is about: things that could radically transform cities and the way people get around.”

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