A group of students have unveiled the product of two years' labor -- a working model of the futuristic Hyperloop transport system.
Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur of Tesla, originally discussed the Hyperloop concept in 2013. The Hyperloop is based on the premise of a tube with a custom environment within which allows for fans, a vacuum or pressure system to propel passenger pods along the tubes so they reach their end destinations in record time.
The tube transit system would aim to punt passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in roughly 30 minutes -- which is far faster than the high-speed rail. Musk said:
"The Hyperloop (or something similar) is, in my opinion, the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart.
Around that inflection point, I suspect that supersonic air travel ends up being faster and cheaper. With a high enough altitude and the right geometry, the sonic boom noise on the ground would be no louder than current airliners, so that isn't a showstopper. Also, a quiet supersonic plane immediately solves every long distance city pair without the need for a vast new worldwide infrastructure."
However, there are problems with each approach and the nuts and bolts of a working Hyperloop need to be thrashed out. Enter the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, a project designed to challenge interested developers into creating functional half-scale prototypes which can be tested on the SpaceX Hyperloop test track outside Hawthorne, California.
Ahead of the creation of the Hyperloop test track, a group of students from the University of Illinois has created their own miniature Hyperloop model which shows that the idea, at least in theory, is feasible.
The team of student engineers created the 1:24-scale prototype as part of a senior design project, according to Motherboard, and over the past two years have managed to create a functioning model of the transport system.
The project uses partially pressurized tubes which sends small pods through an oval loop in order to test out the key components of Musk's idea. However, for the sake of simplicity, the students did have to compromise on some parts and were only able to reach 3m/s, which if scaled up, amounts to approximately 160mph -- far less than Musk's proposed 760mph. In any case, the prototype does show the idea has merit and can be taken forward by the next generation of students.
After all, we don't get anywhere by just talking about an idea.
Watch the prototype in action below:
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