At first glance, the hyperloop concept looks a bit like a cross between a monorail and a pneumatic tube delivery system. It was about four years ago that PayPal founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk came up with the idea for his tube system. The concept is based on transport capsules that are driven by magnets and travel at extremely high speeds through a partial vacuum created inside a tunnel. In 2015, Musk launched the "Hyperloop Pod Competition", calling on teams of students around the world to submit their own concepts for the transport capsule, known as a "pod".
The first main prizes were handed out at the start of this year. A team from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands took the title of best overall concept, but the prize for the fastest pod went to the WARR Hyperloop Team from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. However, the students at the Institute of Astronautics had little time to rest on their laurels. Another important competition - this time focused on speed alone - came round in August this year, giving the Munich students the perfect opportunity to show what they can do. More than 20 teams put their pods through their paces in specially built tubes at the Los Angeles site of Elon Musk's aerospace company SpaceX. Unfortunately, the strict regulations meant only three teams could qualify for the final - the record holders from Munich’s WARR Hyperloop team, Team Paradigm Hyperloop from Northeastern University and Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador, and Team Swissloop from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.
While the Swiss did little to dispel stereotypes by hitting 39 kilometers per hour in the vacuum tubes, the Paradigm Hyperloop team broke the 100 kilometer per hour barrier. However, with one of the smallest pods in the competition - weighing in at just 80 kilograms - WARR Hyperloop achieved 324 kilometers per hour! Musk, who watched the competition unfold, congratulated the Munich team in person.