The Hyperloop is a concept in which passenger capsules (Pods) float almost silently at velocities close to the speed of sound through a tube at about one thousandth of atmospheric pressure. In this way, heavily used intracontinental routes could be handled faster, more efficiently and in a more environmentally friendly manner than with conventional means of transport.
A journey from Munich to Hamburg, which takes seven hours by train, can be completed in 45 minutes with a Hyperloop Pod. This is faster than by plane, while the emissions of greenhouse gases are a factor of ten lower. It is made possible by extremely low friction caused by the low pressure in the tube and a levitation mechanism that makes the Pod float.
In May 2020 a group of students from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology founded the non-profit association mu-zero HYPERLOOP, driven to sustainably shape the mobility of the future by applying the Hyperloop concept.
The team collaborated online throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to build a functional prototype, focused on the development of an ‘electrodynamically levitating linear induction motor’. This motor combines a contactless drive system, as well as a levitation concept in a single, novel component and offers potential for various high-speed transport systems. The association unveiled its prototype online in June.
Several challenges will need to be overcome on the way from prototype to general means of transport. Many of them are related to the process of scaling up, such as building the infrastructure or developing long-term business models. However, some challenges are more generic in origin, like the vacuum system and its safety.
The team also recognises that such an innovation also requires social acceptance and sustainable business models to reach fruition. To achieve that, they consider economic, ecological and social aspects in interdisciplinary concept studies, in order to identify critical problems and offer comprehensive solutions.
Currently 68 bachelor as well as master students from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, University of Stuttgart, as well as Stuttgart Media University are volunteering in specialised divisions of the association.
Because the construction and evaluation of a Hyperloop system requires the commitment of many highly skilled people in an interdisciplinary team, mu-zero HYPERLOOP combines a variety of scientific as well as entrepreneurial capabilities. Therefore, the association acts as an incubator for new mobility concepts, in which students from different universities work together on Hyperloop prototypes.
The student-led team is a finalist in our Competition Best Idea 2021 and will present to our high-level conference and will be available to discuss during a virtual exhibition on 14 October.