Arizona students combine forces to gain speed on SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition

MESA – How can you get from Phoenix to San Diego in less than 45 minutes safely?

By jumping into a pod that levitates and travels through a tube at 750 miles per hour, of course.

It’s called a Hyperloop system, and more than 100 Arizona students have worked for months to bring the concept closer to reality.

SpaceX, the aerospace company led by Elon Musk, developed the high-speed Hyperloop technology and launched a competition to see who could accelerate its development, according to the company’s website.

Arizona State University students participated in the first competition – aimed at building a high-speed pod – but the team didn’t make the final cut.

Undeterred, the students combined efforts with other Arizona schools, including Thunderbird School of Global Management, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Northern Arizona University, according to AZLoop‘s website.

Students from several major Arizona schools have joined forces to form AZLoop and will  participate in SpaceX's Hyperloop competition. (Photo courtesy of AZLoop)

Students from several major Arizona schools have joined forces to form AZLoop and will participate in SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition. (Photo courtesy of AZLoop)

The volunteers often spend Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights – and sometimes until the morning – inventing strategies to improve their pod at a 3,000-square foot lab space on ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

They plan to compete in the next competition this summer. This one’s focused on one thing: maximum speed.

Co-Lead Director Lynne Nethken describes the pod as an airplane without wings that can hold about 26 to 28 people.

“We have traffic problems just like everywhere else, and so we want to try and see what we can do to not only alleviate some of the traffic problems that we have, but to create a sustainable solution,” she said.

Co-Lead Director Joshua Kozar said these students are creating something that will adapt a demand for people who travel.

“The innovation’s changing the world,” he said. “It’s being able to tell somebody that in 10 years, 20 years, they’ll be able to go to San Diego for lunch. They’ll be able to go to (Las) Vegas for lunch, spend half of their lunch hour gambling away their life savings.”

The AZLoop team is finishing its technical report to present to SpaceX. The company will hold the competition at its track in California.

Video by Farai Benett.