After winning the first round of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition in January 2017, the WARR Hyperloop-Team from TUM again managed to attain the first spot in the second round in late August. With a team of 30 students representing the TUM, WARR (German acronym for Scientific Workgroup for Rocketry and Space) flew to the SpaceX headquarter in Hawthorne near Los Angeles to compete against the two other finalists. Reaching a max. speed of 201 mp/h in the test tube, the team beat out the teams from ETH Zurich and Northeastern University who managed to accelerate their pods to 25 mp/h and 63 mp/h, respectively.
Hyperloop pod run by team WARR pic.twitter.com/ntaMsoxkZE
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 28. August 2017
The competition was initiated by Elon Musk’s company aerospace company SpaceX in 2015 to demonstrate the technical feasibility of Musk’s new concept. With his white paper that he wrote in 2013, Musk laid the foundation for a new genre of transportation. Proclaiming a pod, passenger- or cargo-packed, that is moved inside an almost airless tube, lowering friction and air resistance to a minimum. Other than that, Musk only sporadically elaborate on the technical specifications of the pod itself which is why he created the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition. Out of the 25 participating student teams, each with their own solutions of how to design the pod, how to make it levitate and how to propel it. The three most promising designs were shown by the teams Paradigm (Northeastern), Swissloop (ETH Zurich) and WARR (TUM).
Swissloop’s pod relied on jet power. Compressed air inside a tank on the pod gets released through a nozzle at the rump, into to the vacuum of the tube, jetting the vehicle forwards. The maximum speed reached by this technique was 25mph. Paradigm’s pod was the only finalist using onboard air tanks to create a cushion of air, letting the pod float. This approach being the solution that Musk himself proposed in the first place could, however, not beat the WARR’s speed. Their pod was accelerated through wheels which were attached to the metal rails in the test tube. Using a 75 hp electric motor and very powerful brakes, leaving the pod more time to drive up to speed, the team managed to reach a maximum speed of 201mph, outperforming the Hyperloop One mark of 192mph from 3 weeks before.
Some might say, the WARR team cheated in a way as they did not adhere to the principle of levitation, however, the results show that this is by far the most promising way to move the pod at high speeds. This can also be seen from Musk’s recent efforts, which all include some sort of wheels to propel the vehicle. Either way, the race for the fastest way of transportation on ground has just begun.