Teams from Germany and the Netherlands win a SpaceX competition to develop the best and fastest 'pod' to carry passengers on a future high-speed Hyperloop transportation system. Robert Mezan reports.
STORY: The Hyperloop high-speed transportation system has moved a step closer to reality. Teams competed to design subscale versions of the transport pods that could one day whisk passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under half an hour. The competition was hosted by SpaceX and its founder, Elon Musk. Although Musk is not directly involved in the construction of the Hyperloop, the billionaire entrepreneur originally envisioned the concept, having created an open-source plan that encouraged others to build it. The idea is that passengers would travel through low-pressure steel tubes at up to 800 mph (1,288 kph), propelled by a magnetic accelerator. The fastest pod in the competition reached 58mph (93 kph). That was was designed and built by a 35-person team from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. SOUNDBITE (German) JOSEF FLEISCHMANN, MEMBER OF THE WARR TEAM FROM MUNICH, GERMANY, SAYING: "What made our team stand out is actually a compressor which we bought out of an old aircraft. It's there to reduce drag and give us some additional speed." A team from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands achieved the highest overall score in the competition for their pod with a levitation, stabilization and braking system based on permanent magnets. SOUNDBITE (Dutch) MARS GEUZE, TECHNICAL MANAGER OF DELFT HYPERLOOP, SAYING: "Hyperloop, the technology is pretty much there already, we just have to implement it. One of the things this competition is for is to show the world that we can do this and convince them that we should build it somewhere and get the ball rolling." SpaceX has said it will hold a second competition, open to both new and existing student teams, in Summer 2017, this time focused only on maximum speed.