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article imageHyperloop 2020 challenge to use curved vacuum tunnel, says Musk

By Tim Sandle     Jul 22, 2019 in Technology
The 2020 Space X student engineering challenge Hyperloop, where prototype vehicles charge through a tunnel network, will take place in a six mile curved vacuum tunnel, according to Elon Musk. This presents a bigger, and more exciting, challenge.
The hyperloop concept aims to transport people in high-speed pods in underground tubes. The concept was originally designed by Richard Branson's Virgin Group, but it has since been adopted by Space X with the technology being driven through an annual completion.
Previous Hyperloop challenges have taken place within a straight three-quarters of a mile test tunnel located at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The 2020 version will be far more complex - a six mile vacuum tunnel, which is also curved. This places a number of additional complexities in the way of the budding engineers.
This forms part of a 'future of transport' challenge. The hyperloop would enable passengers to travel in pods which levitate inside massive tubes. The tubes are surrounded by a cushion of air which significantly reduces friction.
The Hyperloop competition is aimed at student teams, where each entrant needs to design and build a prototype vehicle designed to travel in the potential Hyperloop network. The vehicles need to be self-propelled and should aim to achieve the maximum possible speed, without crashing into the tunnel or colliding with another vehicle. According to Engadget, Elon Musk declared the new format just after the completion of the 2019 Hyperloop Pod competition. The 2019 competition was won by Technical University of Munich, who designed a pod-like vehicle that reached a top speed of 288 miles per hour before it finally crashed.
The reason for going longer and deeper with the future tunnel is because Musk believes that speeds of up to 500 or 600 miles per hour are possible, as he told TechCrunch.
There could be concerns that Musk's long-tunnel plan is too ambitious. The construction of the test tunnels have been logistically challenging for the Hyperloop project, relating to both obtaining permits to dig and the type of reinforcement needed for the tunnels to stop them collapsing. In many ways, the infrastructure has been an equal challenge to the vehicle design and racing.
More about Hyperloop, Speed, Transport, elon musk
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