With their Swissloop concept, ETH Zurich students have won the SpaceX competition of US entrepreneur Elon Musk against thousands of other teams. Now, in the summer of 2018, the Swiss will once again be able to prove themselves in the next round with their enhanced capsule. The Swissloop project is supported by Leybold. The vacuum pioneer has been promoting the Hyperloop projects of the technology revolutionary since 2015 with its vacuum know-how.
Whether Mars will be colonised during Elon Musk's lifetime remains to be seen critically. Yet concerning the utopias of Tesla's founder for new revolutionary ways of transport and the vision of overcoming large distances by land, the vision has already taken on concrete forms. And the enthusiasm with which his employees and supporters around the globe take part in the innovation with the illustrious name Hyperloop speaks for the appeal of his ideas.
Through the vacuum at 1,000km/h
This is one of the reasons why teams from all over the world have been working on prototypes for the high-speed capsules since 2017. In the future, people shall travel through vacuum tubes at around 1,000km per hour. A team of students from ETH Zurich has established itself in the transfer of the tubular mail idea to passenger transport. The designers, physicists, computer scientists and mechanical engineers around Swissloop CEO Luca Di Tizio were able to assert themselves against a thousand other teams at the 'Hyperloop Pod Competition 2017'.
Bronze for the Swissloop capsule
In the late summer of 2017, they were initially been selected as one of 27 teams from an initial 1,200 university teams and had been personally invited by Elon Musk to the SpaceX test site in Hawthorne, Los Angeles. There they were able to present their specially developed pod solution.
The success reflects the quality of their concept idea: the snow-white Swissloop pod capsule won third place. In view of the ranking, despite some minor startup difficulties, all members were very enthusiastic. The Swissloop crew was the first team to risk a test run with cold gas drive.
Safe sliding through the tube
The persistence and motivation with which the ETH students worked on further optimisations has now been rewarded once again. Since February 2018, it has been clear that Swissloop is officially qualified for the Hyperloop Pod Competition 2018. And this contest will also take place at SpaceX headquarters in California. From 15th to 21st July, Swissloop will work closely with SpaceX and Boring Company engineers to validate this year's pods and test whether the Swissloop pod will glide safely through the vacuum tube. The final, in which only the best teams will compete, will be held on 22nd July 2018.
“We are very happy about the participation in the final and would like to thank ETH Zurich and our sponsors for their support," said Swissloop CEO and ETH student Luca Di Tizio. Sponsor and vacuum pioneer Leybold, who has been involved in the Hyperloop projects since its inception, was also delighted with the performance of the Swissloop makers.
Strong partners required
"Leybold's commitment is a matter close to the heart of the vacuum pioneer. The specialist sees great potential in the technology and is convinced that his commitment will accelerate the success of the Hyperloop project. The challenge of creating something fundamentally new that revolutionises traditional means of transport naturally motivates us enormously," emphasised Johan Van der Eeken, Managing Director of Leybold.
Companies such as Leybold are predestined to lead such projects to success with their wealth of experience in vacuum technology. And vice versa, the project managers at Hyperloop and Swissloop choose strong partners like Leybold to make such visionary ideas a reality.
Energy self-sufficient system
The Hyperloop concept is based essentially on vacuum technology: the vacuum tunnel massively reduces air resistance and thus enables smooth driving at speeds of up to 1,000km per hour. At the same time, the tube offers sufficient space for solar panels. The energy required to maintain the vacuum can be obtained from the modules located on the surface of the vacuum tubes. This turns it into an energy self-sufficient system that is not only visionary but also sustainable.