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Elon Musk at Hyperloop competition
SpaceX founder Elon Musk looks over to the WARR Hyperloop team as he announces the group’s winning time in the second Hyperloop pod competition. The portal to the test tunnel is to the right of Musk. (WARR Hyperloop via Facebook)

The speediest team from SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s first Hyperloop pod competition has done it again: WARR Hyperloop from Germany’s Technical University of Munich won today’s second contest by sending its magnetic-levitation pod through a nearly mile-long test tunnel at a peak speed of 201 mph.

Musk announced WARR’s victory to a crowd in the stands at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., and on Twitter as well:

This weekend’s competition brought about two dozen teams to Hawthorne, including a student group from the University of Washington. Each of the teams developed a pod that was designed to test engineering approaches for Musk’s Hyperloop rapid-transit concept, which calls for sending people and cargo through low-pressure tubes at near-supersonic speeds.

Such a system could enable travel between, say, Seattle and Portland in 15 minutes.

None of the teams was expected to go close to supersonic, but WARR nearly quadrupled its top speed of 58 mph from the first competition, which was held in Hawthorne in January.

UW’s team didn’t make the cut for the final three-way runoff, either for the first or for the second competition. Instead, two other international teams vied with WARR in the final round at the test tunnel, which was built just across the street from SpaceX’s Hawthorne campus:

  • Paradigm Hyperloop, a team from Northeastern University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, and College of the North Atlantic.
  • Swissloop, a team that brought together dozens of students from ETH Zurich and other Swiss universities.

Neither of those teams was able to match WARR in the speed department, which was the sole criterion for the Hyperloop II contest.

Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX as well as Tesla, was the star of today’s show. He roamed from team to team, wearing a white Hyperloop T-shirt. In a Facebook video, he could be heard touting the full-scale Hyperloop system to the WARR students. “An electric car in a vacuum tube is the best way to go, obviously,” Musk said.

The teams aren’t winning any huge cash prizes for their labors, but they are getting in on the ground floor of what could be a new frontier in transportation infrastructure. Musk has said he’s been having serious talks with government officials in Washington, D.C., Chicago and other locales about turning the concept into a reality.

Two other commercial ventures that aren’t affiliated with Musk are doing likewise. In a tweet sent out during today’s activities, Musk said he hoped that “they and any others trying to advance transport technology succeed.”

WARR would have to nearly quadruple its top speed again in a future contest to hit the near-supersonic velocities envisioned for commercial Hyperloop systems. But Musk wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the feat could be accomplished in SpaceX’s test tunnel:

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