SpaceX Hyperloop designs feature carbon fiber

SpaceX and its founder Elon Musk launched a competition inviting teams of students to design the Hyperloop pod.

MIT students have won the first round of the competition to design the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation concept developed by Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Competiting against 100 other teams from around the world, the group of MIT graduate students won the best overall design award for a vehicle that will ride inside the Hyperloop, which is a system of tubes connecting major cities. The MIT students will now move on to build a small-scale prototype of their design and test it this summer on a track being built next to the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, US.

In 2013, Musk released a white paper on the Hyperloop, a transit system designed for major cities that are separated by 900 miles or less (for instance, San Francisco and Los Angeles). In Hyperloop, people and freight are propelled in pods through tubes maintained at a near-vacuum. 

In order to accelerate the development of a functional prototype and to encourage student innovation, SpaceX held a competition to design and build a half-scale Hyperloop pod. MIT's final capsule came in roughly 2.5 meters long, about one meter wide and weighs 250 kilograms, according to MIT. The pod’s shell will be made with woven carbon fiber and polycarbonate sheets. Final assembly must be complete by mid-May. 

The TU Delft team (Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands) secured second place. They were also awarded the prize for the most innovative design, which features a full carbon fiber chassis. The TU Delft capsule, weighed at just 149 kilosgrams The team will now join 21 others onto the next phase of the competition, in which they will be build their pod in preparation to test the designs on a real Hyperloop test track in California this summer.