This summer will be the fourth time that SpaceX is hosting the Hyperloop Pod Competition. SpaceX founder Elon Musk is using the competition
to encourage further development of transportation
capsules for the Hyperloop. The Hyperloop is a transportation technology in which capsules – known as pods – containing cargo or people will one day be transported through vacuum tubes at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h.
Student teams from all over the world applied for the competition and 21 have been given the chance to present their prototype in Los Angeles in July. On July 21, the most promising pods will compete against each other on the 1.25 km long SpaceX test track. The fastest one wins – as long as it can brake without crashing. Swissloop, an association of students from ETH Zurich and other Swiss universities, is one of the invited teams. They are taking part in the competition for the third time.
More than 1,400 individual parts
In summer 2017, Swissloop competed with its first pod “Escher”, followed by its successor “Mujinga” in 2018. The team has once more developed an entirely new prototype for this year’s competition.
At 3.27 metres in length and weighing a good 220 kilogramm, “Claude Nicollier” consists of more than 1,400 individual parts, 147 of which were custom-made. In contrast to the cold gas drive of “Escher” and the electric motors of “Mujinga”, the new pod features a linear induction motor with a propulsive power of approximately 400 kilogramm. Although Musk already proposed this type of drive for the Hyperloop in a white paper in 2013, it is the first year in which this type of motor will be used in competition.