A bunch of students figured out how to make a functioning miniature Hyperloop
But perhaps the folks making the most progress on the futuristic tube travel idea are actually students.
Earlier this year we learned about UCLA's Suprastudio, a one-year master architect program, that took on the challenge of designing a Hyperloop system. The studio published all kinds of cool data and images about how it envisioned the high-speed transportation system and even built a human-size Hyperloop capsule.And now we learn that the mechanical engineering students at the University of Illinois have been working on a Hyperloop prototype for the last two years.
While the functioning model is pretty impressive, the students' prototype did stray a bit from Musk's original design.
"We had to make some changes with respect to the white paper because with the tools that they have and the time that they have they cannot do extremely complicated machining," said Carlos Pantano-Rubino, the mechanical engineering professor who oversaw the project.
For example, the students' Hyperloop featured a solenoid motor instead of a linear-induction motor, as Musk proposed.
"Small steps is the way to go. That is how engineers learn to build complicated things. Nobody just learns to build complicated things the first time," he said.
Given students from Illinois University already have about two years of research under their belt, there's a good chance they could have a leg up on the competition.
Already more than 150 students have signed up to join the group taking up the Elon Musk challenge. And they plan to use the research from the previous two years to help their design.