New methods of high-speed transport are a subject that researchers have been studying over the years. With encouragement from Elon Musk, creator of the Hyperloop, scientists are looking into creating pods that can transport passengers and cargo at high speeds.

The Hyperloop concept is being developed so that pods will travel at very high speeds along a tube, to provide an alternative to flying, rail transportation and driving, while also being safe, convenient and kinder to the environment in not using power that is dependent on fossil fuels.

There are several Hyperloop sites being established around the world, and in 2015 Musk launched a competition to encourage the best international student groups to push the boundaries of science and create their ideas of how pods could operate.

Two such top universities – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft, in the Netherlands) – took part in the first phase of a competition in January this year to unveil their prototype pods at a Hyperloop test track in California.

Challenged with a tunnel of one mile in length and six-feet diameter, the teams had to demonstrate that their pods could safely accelerate to speeds of up to 250 mph and break to a standstill without crashing. Both teams used magnetic levitation as their method of propulsion. 

Experts from SpaceX and Tesla, along with university professors, judged the competition entries. The TU Delft Hyperloop team won first prize overall, while MIT Hyperloop won an award for safety and reliability.

MIT and Delft will be leading a workshop at CWIEME Berlin, an exhibition for coil winding, electric motor and transformer manufacturing, to talk about their ground-breaking designs for the SpaceX Hyperloop competition and the future of transport.