Engineering students hurl Hyperloop pods down California test track

SpaceX has run several competitions aimed at pushing forward the ambitious Hyperloop project, with the latest one wrapping up on Sunday.

Although a couple of companies are working on developing the track technology for the ultrafast transportation system, it’s engineering students from around the world who’ve been busy designing the pods that passengers could one day ride in.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the man who dreamed up the Hyperloop concept back in 2013, has been using the contests to encourage students to develop the capsules, which, if the system ever goes into operation, will carry people inside a near-vacuum environment at speeds of up to 760 mph. At that rate, a journey between Los Angeles and San Francisco would take a mere half hour.


Taking place just outside SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and judged by SpaceX engineers, the 30 teams in the latest competition spent the last week putting their pods through a range of tests in the hope of securing a run on the test track.

Three finalists were selected, with each one given the chance to send their half-size prototype along the enclosed mile-long track on Sunday.

The Delft Hyperloop team from Delft University in the Netherlands triumphed after gaining the highest overall score with its super-sleek, carbon-fiber pod (above) incorporating a specially designed brake and stabilization system. The Technical University from Munich in Germany picked up the award for the fastest design, though speeds are currently way down on those expected with the final Hyperloop system. Among U.S. entrants, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) finished third overall.

MIT had already caught the attention of judges last year when it won the Best Overall Design Award during an early phase of the contest, while Delft University had previously collected the Pod Innovation Award.

SpaceX said that based on the “high-quality submissions and overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding the competition,” it’s planning a second installment of the contest — Hyperloop Pod Competition II — for later this year.

Focusing solely on speed, the summer showdown will be open to all-new student teams with pods designed for the test track, as well as to existing teams with tried and tested pods.

Addressing the participating teams on Sunday, Musk said the event was designed primarily to “encourage innovation in transport technology, to get people excited about new forms of transport … to really get people to innovate and to think about doing things in a way that’s not just a repeat of the past, but to explore the boundaries of physics and see what’s possible.”

Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.

Our favorite fitness trackers make it fun to keep moving

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.
Emerging Tech

This cryptocurrency wallet for kids isn’t nearly as stupid as it sounds

So you’ve taught your 6-year-old child to read, write, and play nice with others. What’s next? Give them a base understanding of cryptocurrency, of course. This Kickstarter aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.