MIT Unveils Their Winning Hyperloop Pod Prototype

May 18, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

MIT's fully built Hyperloop pod for the SpaceX competition
Photo credit: Courtesy of the MIT Hyperloop Team

Their pod design will heat up the competition in the second round!

This past week, Hyperloop One completed the first public display of their supersonic transport system, demonstrating that the radical concept proposed by Elon Musk back in 2013 is attainable in our not-so-distant future.

And they’re not the only ones working hard to bring the faster-than-sound system to reality. On Friday, a group of MIT students unveiled their fully built Hyperloop pod, which the students will enter in the second round of SpaceX’s Hyperloop pod competition later this year.  

SEE ALSO: Watch: The First Public Demonstration of Hyperloop One Transportation Technology

The MIT students won the design round of the competition in January this year and will now have to face off against more than twenty other universities and nonprofit organizations all competing to develop the ultimate Hyperloop pod.

Here's how their Hyperloop pod works:

The MIT maglev prototype pod cost around $150,000 to build. Measuring 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) long by 3.3 feet (1 meter) wide, the pod weighs about 250 kilograms and is expected to reach speeds of up to 230 miles (369 kilometers per hour) — far slower than the speed of sound. The team of students opted to use magnetic levitation instead of wheels in their pod design for engineering reasons.

Greg Monahan, a graduate student in mechanical engineering and leads the team’s levitation efforts, told Scientific American, “One of the most interesting parts of the Hyperloop is the attempt to go significantly faster than any other type of land travel.”

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Once the pod approaches the speed of sound, “any type of contact with the ground or a track gets really complicated from an engineering standpoint.”

There are still some obstacles, which the MIT team will need to address before their pod will be ready to be tested on a Hyperloop track.

“One of the challenges in creating brakes for something that is levitating is that we have to be able to stop without touching anything,” Raghav Aggarwal, a doctoral candidate who is developing the pod’s braking system, told Scientific American. “We are basically moving a magnet really fast next to a piece of aluminum.”

The impressive pod design will certainly turn heads during the second round of the competition. All the participating teams will be testing their fully built pods on a one-mile long test track on the competition weekend in California this summer.

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