With inventor Elon Musk’s “Hyperloop”—a form of transportation consisting of pods inside a sealed tube and traveling faster than any existing type of ground transportation—as the driving force, his company, SpaceX, opened a competition last year challenging teams to design their own Hyperloop pods. With an average velocity of 750 miles per hour, the conceptualized Hyperloop should be able to carry people and cargo while floating on a cushion of air created by the pod itself, though for the contest, only scale models would be used.
Partnering with students from the University of Maryland, four Rutgers electrical and computer engineering undergraduates worked over the course of six months on their design, which they demonstrated to a panel of SpaceX judges at the Hyperloop Contest Design Weekend, hosted at Texas A&M University in January. Competing with graduate students and professional engineers, the RUMD Loop team’s design earned them a ninth place finish out of nearly 100 different teams.
Rutgers team members, Cedric Blake, Michael Feinstein, Shreyas Hirday, and Dominic Ok, along with the entire RUMD team will build a working prototype of their pod, Prometheus, which they will test drive with 30 other teams at a SpaceX track in California in May. Their scale model device is expected to be approximately three feet tall, slightly wider, and 10 feet long. The team plans for their pod to reach speeds of roughly 215 miles per hour when they use the test track, completing the five-mile-long route in 23 seconds. This is one of the higher speeds for the pods presented at Design Weekend.
The Hyperloop is expected to be more energy efficient and faster than any existing form of ground transportation, including magnetic levitation trains—currently the fastest ground-based vehicles with a maximum speed of roughly 360 miles per hour. While initial costs are likely to be expensive in developing the Hyperloop – the RUMD prototype pod is expected to cost $60,000 – the final devices should see significant savings as well.