A team of engineering students from MIT has won the Best Overall Design Award at the SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend contest at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The MIT Hyperloop Team won for their design for pods that could travel via Hyperloop, a conceptual transportation system described in 2013 by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as a series of tubes that shuttle passengers in pods at up to 700 miles an hour.
The MIT design beat out more than 115 student engineering teams from across the globe, reports the Texas A&M Engineering blog.
The winning team said the philosophy behind their design “is to demonstrate high-speed, low-drag levitation technology. We aim to build a light pod to allow us to achieve the highest cruise speed.” The design relies on a magnetic levitation system that keeps the pod 15 millimeters above the Hyperloop tube’s surface. The pod’s shell will be constructed of woven carbon fiber and polycarbonate sheets. In case of emergency, the pod design includes a braking system that will automatically activate if any system in the pod fails, and, if necessary, the pod would be able to drive itself forward or backward using physical wheels.
Twenty-one other teams participating in the competition also won awards for innovation and technical excellence. All 22 teams will get the chance to actually test their designs on a real Hyperloop test track at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters this summer.
Musk, who is also CEO of electric car company Tesla, made an appearance at the awards event, where he praised all the teams involved. “I’m starting to think this is really gonna happen. It’s clear that the public and the world wants something new, and I think you guys are going to bring it to them,” Musk said.
He added, “As soon as [the Hyperloop] happens somewhere, and people see it really work out, I think it will quickly spread throughout the world.” Indeed, though public Hyperloop tracks are years away from being built, there are now plenty of companies looking to lay the groundwork for the future transportation system. However, Musk noted that SpaceX itself is focused on space travel right now.
“We don’t have any specific plans to back Hyperloop companies,” Musk said. “It’s possible that we would back a [Hyperloop team], but we’re trying not to favor one organization over another.”