UT Austin design gets travelers from Austin to Dallas in 15 minutes

The 512 Hyperloop Team is made up of 70 undergraduate students from UT Austin (Courtesy: 512 Hyperloop)
The 512 Hyperloop Team is made up of 70 undergraduate students from UT Austin (Courtesy: 512 Hyperloop)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Getting from Austin to Dallas in 15 minutes via ground transportation may seem like an impossible feat, but over 100 teams from around the world have been working on Hyperloop transport Pod designs, a concept which would do just that.

The teams are traveling to Texas A&M University this weekend to present their ideas at Design Weekend.

Two of those teams hail from the University of Texas at Austin.

The Hyperloop, a concept of high-speed ground transportation, was proposed by Elon Musk in 2013. Musk is the co-founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors.

Hyperloop is a new mode of transport that seeks to [create] both fast and inexpensive [travel] for people and goods. Hyperloop consists of a low pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. The capsules are supported on a cushion of air, featuring pressurized air and aerodynamic lift. The capsules are accelerated via a magnetic linear accelerator affixed at various stations on the low pressure tube with rotors contained in each capsule. Passengers may enter and exit Hyperloop at stations located either at the ends of the tube, or branches along the tube length.”  – Elon Musk

SpaceX is putting on the preliminary competition for students in College Station, designed to encourage innovation and challenge them to design and build the best Hyperloop transport pod.

An open competition set for Summer 2016 will be geared towards students and independent engineering teams. SpaceX will construct a one-mile test track adjacent to their Hawthorne, California headquarters. Teams will be able to test their human-scale pods during a competition weekend at the track.

One of UT’s teams heading to the Texas A&M competition is 512 Hyperloop, a group of 70 undergraduate students from various majors.

“There are no precedents here,” said Michael Rukavina, one of the team leaders. “The technology just doesn’t exist right now, so it’s a cool place to provide some new ideas, even as students.”

In their Horn Raiser video, students say their pod prototype is capable of moving at 330 mph. They say the supersonic mode of transportation would be safe, reliable and weather-immune.

The team says other pod designs could reach speeds over 700 mph.

“It would mean you could be living in Austin and part of your daily work commute would be getting on Hyperloop train and going to Houston,” said Rukavina.

Rukavina predicts we could see Hyperloop pods connecting cities in five to 10 years.

The team is working to raise funds, and has a project budget of $50,000. They say all proceeds will go towards team resources, pod production and pod transportation. Matt Morris, propulsion team leader, says the systems are purely electric. “Economy wise, the idea is to sell these tickets for pretty cheap, because you’re using very little power,” said Morris.

Another team from UT Austin has named themselves the Texas Guadaloop.

According to their fundraising page, the team is made up of engineers, computer scientists and business fellows from Austin. The pod they’re working to build will cost an estimated $25,000.

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