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Elon Musk promises new Hyperloop tunnel after speed record broken

The Verge logo The Verge 22/7/2019 Jon Porter
a group of people posing for a photo: The record was achieved by TUM Hyperloop’s fourth-generation pod. © Image: Photo: A. Heddergott / TUM Hyperloop The record was achieved by TUM Hyperloop’s fourth-generation pod.

TUM Hyperloop has set a new speed record of 463 km/h (288 mph) at the fourth SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. The win was announced by Hyperloop’s official Twitter account. After confirming the speed record, Elon Musk announced that next year’s competition will take place in a 10 km vacuum tunnel with a curve rather than the current 1 mile (1.6 km) straight above-ground tube at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. 

Although the win was another step forward for the theoretical transportation technology, TUM only beat the previous record by 4 mph, far short of the technology’s theoretical 760 mph max speed. The previous record was set by the same team (then known as WARR Hyperloop), in last year’s competition.

TUM had originally hoped to hit a much higher speed of 373 mph, or roughly half the speed of sound, this year, with a pod that doubled the power output of last year’s prototype. However, Teslerati reports that the pod was forced to come to an emergency stop after it suffered visible damage. At just 1.7 meters long and weighing 70 kg, the prototype is still a fraction of the size of what the eventual passenger-ready Hyperloop pods will be.

Musk’s newly proposed tunnel will be a big change for future competitions. At 10 km long it would be over five times longer than all three of the current Hyperloop test tracks, and the inclusion of a curve would bring it far closer to what Hyperloop tracks will have to be like in the real world. The new tunnel would likely introduce additional challenges for the team’s competing in the competition.

However, for now, it seems the new track is firmly in the theoretical stages of planning, and it’s unclear where it will end up being located. On stage at this year’s competition, TechCrunch reports that Elon Musk and Boring Company President Steve Davis discussed only a minor extension of the current test track by around 200 meters. Confusingly, they also discussed having the Boring Company build another longer tunnel, according to TechCrunch, but suggested that this one would be straight rather than curved, and would be built within the next three years rather than by 2020.

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