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German team registers the top speed (again) in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop pod race

Alan Boyle
The TUM Hyperloop team shows off its pod racer. (TUM via Facebook)

The name may have changed, but the result is the same: For the fourth time in a row, a German team registered the top speed in SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Hyperloop pod race for college-level engineers.

The TUM Hyperloop team from the Technical University of Munich — formerly known as WARR Hyperloop — sent its sleek pod racer through a specially built, mile-long test track next to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., at a top speed of 288 mph (463 kilometers per hour).

There was some drama at the end of the run, when the pod experienced what Teslarati photographer Tom Cross called a “rapid unplanned disassembly” — but the judges nevertheless gave the nod to the German team.

As WARR Hyperloop, the same team had the top speed during the three previous runnings of the Hyperloop competition.

Today’s runners-up were Swissloop (160 mph) and EPFLoop (148 mph) from Switzerland, plus Delft Hyperloop from the Netherlands. The University of Washington had a team in the competition but didn’t make it to the Final Four.

Musk laid the foundation for the Hyperloop contest back in 2015, to encourage the development of technologies that could follow through on his vision of a high-speed, tube-based transportation system.

The roots of the concept go back even further, to 2013, when Musk said Hyperloop pods could transport passengers at near-supersonic speeds between, say, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles in about a half-hour.

Musk founded a tunneling venture called the Boring Company to implement some aspects of the Hyperloop concept. Meanwhile, ventures such as Virgin Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies are working to build commercial Hyperloop networks as well.

Engineers from SpaceX and the Boring Company presided over this weekend’s contest, which drew hundreds of participants representing 21 teams in all.

In a tweet, Musk promised to kick things up a notch by holding next year’s contest in a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) vacuum tunnel with a curve.

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