Out of the original 1,200 applicants from universities around the world, Elon Musk invited a total of 27 teams to the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Los Angeles. Their transport capsules - known as pods - underwent rigorous testing there over the course of six days. Only three student teams passed all of the tests, earning the right to send their pod through the 1.25-kilometre-long vacuum tube in the final on 27 August.
Swissloop, an organisation comprised of around 50 students from ETH Zurich and other Swiss universities, was among them. Sadly they didn’t manage to take the top spot - that honour belonged to Team WARR from the Technical University of Munich, the same team that won the first competition held at the beginning of 2017. Team Paradigm from Northeastern University and Memorial University of Newfoundland, the final’s only North American competitors, came in second.
Swissloop had its sights set on victory, but experienced some technical difficulties at the start when they lost connectivity with their pod, forcing their race to be postponed. The second start went off without a hitch, but the pod’s speed of 40kph fell far short of their expectations. Although disappointed in their third place finish, they are proud to be the only team that succeeded in getting a cold gas propulsion system onto the racetrack. "We are delighted to be in the final and would like once again to express our heartfelt thanks to ETH Zurich and our sponsors for their support," said Luca Di Tizio, ETH student and CEO of Swissloop.
On to the next competition
The Swissloop team members will continue to develop their pod after the competition. "Building our first Hyperloop Pod Prototype was an incredibly enriching adventure and we are all proud to be a part of Swissloop! We are hungry for more!", the Swissloop team announced on Facebook. The students worked tirelessly on the design, development and construction of their pod on a voluntary basis for around eight months.
"Commitment, ambition, perseverance and the ability to think critically and translate theory into practice - these are all characteristics we encourage at ETH and are exactly the qualities that helped our students to be successful in this competition. I congratulate Swissloop for third place and wish them all the best with the continued development of their pod," says ETH Rector Sarah Springman.
This is the second year that SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk has organised the Hyperloop Pod Competition as a way of promoting innovative modes of transportation. Musk seemed very impressed by the quality of the students’ work. He also announced that SpaceX will host the competition again next year, marking the third running of the pods.