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Following the invention of the steam engine various other forms of traction were invented, such as the trains driven by diesel or electricity, and later on their Maglev, or magnetic levitation, counterparts. The search for greater speeds is no longer the sole aim because now we also want to create more sustainable and climate-neutral forms of transport. Could the Hyperloop be the next step?
The Hyperloop is a prototype vacuum train. This concept involves a vehicle travelling through a tube at extremely high speed. This means of transport does not have any wheels but floats on magnets, and the tube itself contains an almost complete vacuum. This means the train’s movement is not hampered by air or rolling resistance and it can shoot through the tube at speeds of more than 1000 kph.
The concept of a vacuum train isn’t new. Elon Musk gave it a new impuls by combining two existing ideas. The Hyperloop would be faster than a train, safer than a car and less polluting than flying. Musk’s idea is based on the use of a partial vacuum. This means there is still some air pressure, but it is extremely low. Also will the Hyperloop Pod float on magnets. The track is fitted with metal coils that give off magnetic waves and these waves cause the Pod to move forward.
To promote the development of the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s SpaceX announced an international Hyperloop Competition in 2015. Businesses and students were challenged to create a transport vehicle (Pod) for a 1.28-kilometre test track in California. The Pods were judged for their speed, safety, sustainability and feasibility.
There were more than 2,000 entrants, and the prototype exposed in the museum- created by the Delft Hyperloop Team in the Netherlands – emerged as the winner. A group of thirty-six students at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) built this half-scale prototype. The competition has been held annually since 2015, and there have now been several successors to the Pod thought up by the TU Delft team.