From Brussels to Barcelona in just 30 minutes – sound fanciful? This could become reality in the not too distant future, as universities and freelance teams worldwide are working on a turbo traffic system. The “fastest” ones come from Munich, Germany.
For Tesla founder Elon Musk, the Hyperloop will play an outstanding role in the traffic systems of the future. Faster than a plane with the convenience of Germany’s high-speed train – the futuristic transport system will shoot pods through near-vacuum tubes at almost the speed of sound. The over-dimensioned tube mail system will also consume considerably less energy than other long-distance means of transport, as there is hardly any resistance in the near-vacuum tubes and the pods travel with little friction thanks to magnetic levitation technology.
Hyperloop competition with clear winners
So that the vision can be translated into reality as quickly as possible, each year since 2015 Elon Musk has organized the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition for universities and freelance teams.
In the night from Sunday to Monday, students at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) won this competition near Los Angeles with its pod prototypes for the fourth time. At a speed of 463.5 km/h, the trip from Munich to Hamburg could be reduced to around 75 minutes. The other competitors were literally left standing, as the pod from the TUM team was almost twice as fast as the one from the team that took second place.
Bavaria thrilled with speed
The Hyperloop is now also part of the Bavarian space strategy “Bavaria One.” A consortium of scientists and companies is currently looking for a suitable test track. In the coming five years, the first “turbo tube mail” could perhaps be transporting passengers from the city to the airport.
Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon is also from Bavaria. It supplies important parts for the electronics of the TUM pod. For example, 288 power semiconductor devices control the flow of current for the eight electric motors with thousands of switching processes per second, which ensures lightning-quick alternating magnetic fields. 24 sensors from Infineon also monitor the rotor position in the motors to ensure precise control of the switching processes.
Another 112 power components are in the main battery switches. This is required, for example, to switch off the power supply in a fraction of a second for maintenance work or in case of accidents.
Holland has the first Hyperloop
However, the first functioning Hyperloop system is in the Netherlands. After two years of development work, the startup Hardt presented a thirty-meter-long straight section with all the necessary core elements in Delft. With Hyperloop Lane Switch Technology (HLS), the pods can even switch lanes at high speed. With no moving parts. This would enable branched route networks.
By the time BAU 2021 takes place, a three-kilometer route is to be built within the scope of the future research and development center “European Hyperloop Center.” In the long term, a 10,000-kilometer network will connect cities throughout Europe. Heavyweights, such as Royal BAM Group, Tata Steel, Royal ICH, and Continental are already on board. The DB Engineering & Consulting Division of Deutsche Bahn is even participating in Hardt.
Parallel to this, U.S. company HyperloopTT is building a 320-meter-long test track near Toulouse in France. The fifteen-meter long, five-ton pod (“Quintero One”) was already presented in October last year.