Traveling in a capsule
“That was great!” – Mariana Avezum is thrilled. The computer scientist and her “WARR-Hyperloop”-team at TUM, which consists of 20 members, recently returned from College Station (Texas). The reason of their stay: participating in a design competition for a new type of high-speed transport system at the Texas A&M University.
It was a tough competition: 124 student groups from all over the world took part. The TUM’s team is in the next round – one of the 30 teams that will take part in the finals in Los Angeles in summer.
The TUM-students and a group from the University of Delft (Netherlands) are actually the only European participants who will be able to present their prototypes on the 1.6-kilometer test track at the headquarters of SpaceX.
Air cushion within pneumatic tube
Elon Musk – inventor of the Tesla electric car and Head of the aerospace company SpaceX, which initiated the event – has a vision of a system in which passengers or goods travel on an air cushion within a kind of pneumatic tube, close to sonic speed (1200 kmph).
Musk’s “Hyperloop Pod Competition” is based on an open, participatory development approach, giving junior engineers, physicists or computer scientists a chance to show what they can do. The objective is to create something really new; something that is able outclass all other means of transport – on the road, on rails, and even in the air.
28 seats in a single line
“One of the highlights was when the US Secretary of Transport visited our stand and we explained our design concept to him,” says project manager Mariana Avezum, pleased. In the concept studies, the transport system consists of capsules in the form of a cigar. Each capsule (pod) is supposed to contain 28 seats in a single line. Considering the planned speed, it is clear that the passengers will be more in a lying position than seated upright.
Now, the project manager and her colleagues will have to hurry up to find sponsors, as they need financial and material support in order to implement their ideas: “The serious work has just begun.”