© Andreas Heddergott / TU Muenchen
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It looks like nobody can beat the Technical University of Munich’s Hyperloop group. For the fourth time in a row, the students from Germany won the worldwide Hyperloop Competition in Los Angeles. With a maximum speed of 463 km/h, the German team’s pod was faster than all the other teams in the 1,200 meter test tube on the grounds of the SpaceX company.

With this speed, the students from Garching near Munich were 4 kmh slower than their world record time last year, but still 8 km/h faster than the second placed Swissloop team’s pod of the ETH Zurich (257,5 km/h). The pod of the EPFLoop team of the EPFL in Lausanne (Switzerland) reached 238 km/h. The TU Delft team was less successful. Because of a communication problem, their pod triggered an emergency stop after 200 meters.

Students of the NEXT Prototypes e.V. at the roll-out of the TUM Hyperloop Pod IV on 19.06.2019. © Andreas Heddergott / TU Muenchen

100 tests passed

The Hyperloop pods of the 21 student teams from all over the world had to pass around 100 tests during the week. “We passed all the tests, but not all at the first time,” says Team Manager Toni Jukic. Components failed, some of the software had to be rewritten, but in many night shifts, they were able to fix all the problems.

“The Pod is the result of four years of evolution,” says Jukic. “Every year, we learned new things and put these insights into practice. Even though we couldn’t break the world record, winning for the fourth time in the fourth race, is incredible. We are over the moon.”

The 15-person TUM Hyperloop “Research Team” investigates the Hyperloop concept on feasibility, sustainability, and economy. They built another Pod with a working levitation system, which they presented at the competition together with the corresponding pipe system made of ultra-sturdy concrete.

10-kilometer tube planned for 2020

© TUM Hyperloop Team / TUM

Hyperloop inventor and Space-X founder Elon Musk presented his concept of the super-fast train racing through a tube system as early as 2013. In 2015, he launched the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition to advance this concept. For the coming year, the 48-year-old has planned a decisive change. As he announced on Twitter, the pods will go through a 10-kilometer tube with a turn. However, a completely new tube will have to be built, as the current tube can be extended by a maximum of 200 meters.

The competition will therefore probably take place above ground in 2020. Musk admitted during an open round of questions that no long underground tunnel could be built in such a short time. “I don’t think we’ll have a long underground tunnel in a year, but I think we’ll definitely get there in three years,“ Techcrunch quotes Musk. “So figure three years from now, we’ll at least have a couple miles.”

Another competition

Musk also suggested that he was thinking about another competition within the main activity field of his company The Boring Company: tunneling. “We’ll consider a tunneling competition,” he said. “Because as I just articulated the primary challenge is how do you tunnel effectively, especially how do you put in the reinforcing segments and get the dirt out effectively — it’s harder than it seems.”

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