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Report: UW hyperloop could speed into reality

A group of University of Washington students believes they can make a super-fast mode of transportation happen today.

The Seattle Times reports that a group of students are attempting to make a sci-fi form of travel a reality — a hyperloop. The basic idea is a vacuum tube with a high-speed train inside that can travel up to 700 miles per hour. In theory, it could take passengers from Seattle to Portland in about 15 minutes. The team also claims that their hyperloop system could get people from Seattle to Vancouver in 12 minutes.

While the idea may seem far-fetched — it is currently filed under “theoretical” — it’s actually been tested quite a bit in recent years. Elon Musk of Tesla fame promoted the idea. In fact, Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company has organized a competition to see who can make the hyperloop work.
The University of Washington students were among 1,200 teams who responded to the challenge. Now they are among 30 teams who made the cut. They are the only group from the Northwest to make it this far.

The UW team is noted for developing the safest hyperloop design in the competition so far.

The UW hyperloop

The UW students are using a magnetic levitating train — maglev — to travel inside the vacuum tube. With lower air resistance, the train should travel much faster than any high-speed train. This is similar to how airplanes face less air resistance at higher altitudes.

The group has built a small-scale model of their hyperloop system. It can go from 0-55 mph in 1 second. They will take that model to California in late January to present it to officials with SpaceX.

Finalists from this presentation will get to upgrade their models to a one-mile scale. It will be pushed by a Tesla electric car.

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