SpaceX hosted its fourth annual finale of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition on the test tube, which was built outside its Hawthorne headquarters on Sunday. We were there for the competition and watched as the TUM team of the Technical University of Munich won the victory because it reached the top speed of all teams for the finals.
TUM (formerly TUM) known as Team WARR Hyperloop in previous competitions) is a repeat winner, reaching a top speed of 288 mph in this year's final. This is the fastest overall Hyperloop pod yet, surpassing its own last year's record of 284 mph in the third SpaceX graduation. However, it was not without incident ̵
] TUM beat three other finalists including Delft Hyperloop, EPFL Hyperloop and Swissloop. Unfortunately, Delft had a communication error that brought the almost 600 m long SpaceX Hyperloop test track to a standstill. The EPFL managed a top speed of 148 mph and Swissloop exceeded the mark of 160 mph.
For the teams that started on Sunday, charging was associated with loading their capsule, which was about the size of Bob, but little more than engines on wheels on the single lane track that ran across the Length of the interior of the Hyperloop test tube extends. The tube is then sealed and depressurized to near-vacuum. This is essentially Musk's original Hyperloop concept, which foresees the operation of the super-speed transport method.
All teams performed well, and the total number of student teams was indeed 21, with a total of over 700 sins that have participated in the competition from various schools, including Cal Poly, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Indian Institute of Technology and my own alma mater, the University of Windsor (the one with St. Clair College on the pod).
The teams had to prove to their SpaceX and Boring Company employees that they were ready to run in the tube to qualify for the finals. They tried to do just that two weeks before the finals on Sunday. Of these 21 teams, only the four finalists have managed to get the green light for the finals, based on consultant criteria that include the safety and viability of their pod design. There is a kind of lucky motto in the contest to say "Break a Pod" before a run, but SpaceX engineers do not want Team Pods to suffer catastrophic failure in the tube during a run. This year, the competition was even more challenging, as all pods had to use their own communication systems for the first time and the pods had to be designed to approach the end of the tube to a maximum of 30 meters before stopping.
The teams I talked to and did not qualify were upset but determined to play again and qualify next year. Some expressed some frustration about the gap between some teams from smaller schools and those from the last four (who repeatedly qualify each year). Many of the finalists, including Airbus support companies in large sums, while some of the smaller schools have virtually no funding. This leads to a cost delta of hundreds of thousands of dollars when it comes to the total bill for the test pods being built.
In other words, all teams are thrilled to participate, and see the contest as a chance to be valued primarily for working at one of Musk's many high-tech companies, including SpaceX, Tesla. and The Boring Company. It also seems a breeze for these companies to recruit from within the ranks of these industry-leading technical undergraduate and graduate students.
"I think the competition is fun and it creates an inspiring and useful technology. Musk commented for the purpose of the event, before answering a final question from Steve Davis, president of the Boring Company whether there will be a contest again next year's crowd of competitors.