Developing an ultra-high-speed ground transportation system requires tackling numerous technical challenges in different engineering fields. Prototypes are key to validate our solutions and to procure the data required to further improve our design.
Following a thorough system analysis, we are currently designing a complete full-scale Hyperloop demonstrator, which includes both a 24 meters long tube as well as a human-sized passenger pod.
It will help us demonstrate our proposed concept, validate our design choices and collect data to further improve the system. It is the next logical step on our journey to developing a passenger-ready Hyperloop system.
To encourage students to contribute to the development of the Hyperloop system proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, in 2015 the aerospace company SpaceX initiated the international “SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition”.
After having set up a 1.2 km long vacuum tube next to their headquarters in Hawthorne, California, SpaceX held four editions of the competition, the last one in July 2019.
The goal of the competition has been to design and build the fastest Hyperloop pod prototype in the race. Over the years, TUM Hyperloop (previously known as WARR Hyperloop) has won all competitons and currently holds the world record with an impressive top-speed of 482 km/h.
Our best prototype yet.
By optimizing every subsystem and pushing every component of the pod to its limits, the team was able to take the performance to impressive new heights.
For the final SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in July 2019 the team has pushed every aspect of the pod to its extremes.
New custom battery cells with impressive power-density, new improved power electronics for even higher power, a custom braking system with higher pressures and an all-titanium design as well as an even lighter although stronger reinforced carbon fiber chassis contributed to raising the performance of the pod to new levels. This resulted in a new speed record in the race: in the final run of the July 2019 competition the pod reached a peak speed of outstanding 482 km/h.
Incredible power in an even smaller package.
Building upon the design of the previous pod but making decisive changes in all subsystems, the team managed to increase the power-to-weight ratio by a factor of more than five.
Following the success at the second competition, the team was encouraged to double down on its high-speed design.
Switching to distributed propulsion with eight lightweight but high-power ironless motors, optimizing each layer of the carbon fiber chassis as well as designing a custom pneumatic braking system contributed to an incredible five-fold improvement of the power-to-weight ratio. At the competition in July 2018 this pod accelerated to remarkable 467 km/h, shattering the previous speed record and earning compliments from the SpaceX jury for the impressive improvements.
Smaller, lighter and much, much faster.
With a mass of only 85kg and the first onboard propulsion system, providing 0.9 g of acceleration, the radical new design of the second prototype from TUM influenced all future pods in the competition.
With only six months to design, build and test the prototype for the second competition, the team decided to work on a radically new concept, a lightweight and high-performance pod.
A powerful electric motor was added for propulsion, carbon fiber was used for the chassis and all components were designed with lightweight in mind. The result was the fastest vehicle in the race by far: after passing again all stages of the competition, the second pod from TUM reached an impressive speed of 324 km/h, setting a new record in the race.
The very first pod prototype from the Munich team, built with scalability in mind.
Its unique feature: a built-in compressor inspired by Elon Musk’s white paper to comply with the competition’s design criteria.
Shortly after the announcement of the competition in 2015, a group of students at TUM started working on a one-of-a-kind Hyperloop prototype.
With a scalable design, including a compressor at the front, a modular aluminium chassis and a redundant braking system, the team from Munich impressed the SpaceX jury, managing to pass all stages and qualify for a test run on the day of the competition in January 2017. With a flawless execution and a top speed of 94 km/h, Pod I delivered the first win for the Munich team at the event.