If you drive from Austin to Dallas by car it takes about three hours, without traffic. But what about making that trip in just 15 minute? That could one day be a reality. Some University of Texas students are headed to California for a competition in this very innovative technology.
It's called the Hyperloop thought up by SpaceX, Tesla inventor Elon Musk. It’s designed like tube shoots that would propel a pod through a vacuum tube at speeds topping hundreds of miles per hour.
You’ll find one of these pods being built in Austin, in a gym in a building at the University of Texas nearly 100 years old. “We're at the cutting edge of technology at the base of architecture, so to say,” said Sahar Rashed a UT Junior. Rashed is part of "512 Hyperloop", one of two UT groups chosen out of hundreds of teams by SpaceX to help in the design of the pod for the Hyperloop.
“It's super cool especially because this technology doesn't exist right now. We are developing something new that hasn't been done before,” she said.
The Hyperloop is a mass transit system meant to move people at super-fast speeds.
To speed up the development, SpaceX hosts a competition geared toward university students and engineering teams to build and design functioning and safe Hyperloop pods.
“It's based on speed and safety. There's two layers of judging and it's about how fast do you end up going and how safe is your pod overall,” Rashed said.
“512 Hyperloop” had two choices for their pod: magnetic levitation, or air bearings.
“We just have permanent magnets on board and then as we move it interacts with the rail below it and it actually levitates,” said Eric Simmons an UT Senior. Their pod when levitating “512 Hyperloop” anticipates will get going about 150 miles per hour. “The goal is to go as fast as possible,” Rashed said.
Hyperloop founder Elon Musk took to Twitter last month and said there's a chance this Hyperloop could come to Texas, meaning Austinites could travel to Dallas in about 15 minutes.
“These wheels will stay on the pod until 100 mph and after 100 mph we switch to magnetic levitation this allows us to reach higher speeds faster,” Rashed said.
While it's dubbed a competition and “512 Hyperloop will be competing against the other UT team “Texas Guadaloop” who went with air bearings for their pod, the students said winning is not the ultimate goal.
“Really there's no prize in the competition, it's more about trying to contribute to the main and learning from each other and testing out our technology that we developed,” Rashed said.
Four of the students head out this weekend on their journey to Hawthorne, California.
They will be driving their pod to the SpaceX facility there, a more than 20-hour drive, if they had the Hyperloop that would be take about an hour and 40 minutes. “512 Hyperloop” competes Sunday the 27th.