While Elon Musk has a vision of a NY-Philly-Baltimore-DC Hyperloop, the technology is still being developed. This weekend, there’s some East Coast involvement on the test track in California.
A team of University of Maryland students are among the two dozen university competitors in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. The 40 students involved in UMD Loop have a prototype called Nemesis that’s set to traverse the mile-long track. It’s the second time this year the team has taken the pod to the site in Hawthorne, Calif., members wrote in a Baltimore Sun op-ed. Here’s how they changed it since January, via the Sun:
We made it 60 pounds lighter. It looks sleeker, with pneumatics and electronics tucked inside the frame. Magnetic brakes with positional control center the pod on the rail when racing down the track, making for a smoother ride. Our magnetic levitation system allows the pod to maneuver on wheels at low speeds and decreases magnetic drag to reach levitation speeds sooner.
The prototypes aren’t ready for people, but provide a way to explore and refine the technology. We checked in via email with Team Captain Kyle Kaplan on the eve of the weekend competition. He said the team is ready to go after some adjustments to the position-controlled braking system.
“We feel like we have one of the stronger pod designs, and are quite proud that not only is our pod one of the few magnetically levitating pods left in the competition, but also is primarily fabricated and assembled in-house by our fantastic team,” Kaplan wrote.
While the January competition involved judging in areas like design and competition, SpaceX says this round has one objective: “maximum speed.”