How long it would take for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop idea of an ultra-high-speed rail system to become a reality is everyone’s guess.
But at least one group of designers is already providing a conceptual look at what the high-speed system could potentially look like with SpaceX’s annual Hyperloop Pod Competition on Sunday, where teams from colleges and universities around the world compete with their designs of high-speed transport pods.
A Delft University of Technology group in the Netherlands shared its vision for Hyperloop pods, called Atlas 02, and stations that will one day be used to carry passengers at ultra-high speeds over long distances.
A panoramic idea of what a passenger experience will look like, as well as the interior of the future Hyperloop vehicle, including sleek seats in a glass-topped vehicle with digital screens showing the date and weather for a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam to Paris (a journey that currently takes more than three hours by train).
Musk announced early proposals for a multibillion-dollar Hyperloop design in 2013, with the intention of cutting travel time between major cities significantly. Musk said the project will potentially reduce the time between San Francisco and Los Angeles for a train ride from several hours to just 30 minutes.
The idea involves sending the self-propelled transportation pods at speeds greater than 700 MPH through low-pressure vacuum tubes. Since then, near its Hawthorne, California headquarters, SpaceX, Musk’s aerospace firm, has constructed a test track.
Musk said in 2017 that he ran a test with a Hyperloop pod branded by Tesla that hit a peak speed of 220 MPH.
SpaceX has also been searching for an open-source alternative to Musk’s Hyperloop dream, with the company welcoming teams of designers and engineers from around the world to apply their ideas for high-speed transportation pod designs that will one day make a Hyperloop system feasible. In 2015 SpaceX began its annual Hyperloop Pod Competition.
The Delft Hyperloop’s team of 40 students worked to build a self-propelled pod that will compete on Sunday with prototype test runs on the SpaceX track, which is around one mile long, against 20 other college teams from around the world.
The goal of the Delft Hyperloop team is to eventually achieve a top speed of 1,000 km / h (or approximately 620 MPH), while the team that won last year’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition from Munich Technical University did so after achieving a top speed of about 290 MPH.
Elon Musk is not the only billionaire seeking to build hyperloop technology, as the Virgin Group of Richard Branson partnered with Hyperloop One in 2017 with the intention of opening the “mid-2020s” first hyperloop to travelers, the company said in 2018.
In a test run in 2018, Virgin Hyperloop One also officially hit a peak speed of 240 MPH.