Elon Musk has announced that the latest version of a pusher pod designed by Tesla and Space X will soon be attempting to travel at 600 km/h in a Hyperloop tunnel. The speed record for pod transport in pressure-reduced tubes is currently held by the Virgin Hyperloop One achieved 386 km/h.
Sunday 8 April saw Elon Musk announce on Twitter that there would be a fresh attempt on the world speed record for a Hyperloop pusher pod. The CEO of Tesla and Space X is hoping that during the experiment, the pod will be able to reach a speed of 600 km/h – half the speed of sound – over a distance of 1.2 kilometres.
Upgraded SpaceX/Tesla Hyperloop pod speed test soon. Will try to reach half speed of sound (and brake) within ~1.2km.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 8, 2018
Travel quickly but also brake in time
To meet this challenge, the pod will not only have to travel at a record speed but also be able to brake and immobilise itself before the end of the journey in what will be a short space of time for something travelling that quickly. There is a genuine risk of failure, and according to Musk, quoted by French website Numerama, it is possible that the test "could easily end up being shredded metal".
The Hyperloop is a pressure-reduced tube designed by Musk himself in which a pod travels on air bearings. The multibillionaire was happy to give anyone and everyone access to information about his creation in order to fine-tune it, numerama explains. To this end, the US citizen’s companies have launched a competition to encourage students to design a pod that can travel at faster than the speed of sound and transport both goods and passengers.
Pod aiming to set new record
It is Tesla and Space X however rather than student engineers who have been working on improvements which could make it possible to set a new speed record in a Hyperloop. Experts from the two companies have come together to work on the propulsion system in the tunnel for the pods designed by students. As well as being a pusher, the pod can also function alone, and this is how Musk hopes that it will be able to hit top speed.
Strong message sent out to the competition
Setting a new record with the pusher pod would also enable Musk to underline his technical superiority over the competition in the usage of the Hyperloop system. The fastest speeds achieved to date were the work of the Hyperloop One from Richard Branson’s Virgin company – one of Musk’s arch enemies in the hi-tech race involving some of the world’s biggest companies. The Virgin "train" managed to travel at 309 km/h in August 2017 and then hit 386 km/h four months later.
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