A high-speed train that moves through a tube at almost the speed of sound: what sounds like science fiction is becoming reality in Bavaria. In the TUM Department of Aerospace and Geodesy, the Hyperloop will be researched as a transport system of the future. The TUM Hyperloop program will develop and test the necessary technologies as well as investigate the future technical and economic feasibility by means of systems analysis.
In 2013, Elon Musk presented a white paper with a concept for an ultra-high-speed ground transportation system: the so-called Hyperloop. The Hyperloop consists of partially evacuated tubes, in which a pod is able to move and transport people and goods. Thanks to the partial vacuum and by using contactless levitation and propulsion systems, it should be possible to significantly reduce travel times in rail transportation. At the same time, despite its shorter travel times, the Hyperloop is more environmentally friendly than the airplane. The publication of the concept sparked great interest worldwide in novel, climate-neutral high-speed transportation systems.
In the summer of 2015, Elon Musk launched the "SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition" to further explore his vision: student teams from around the world were invited to submit their concepts for the "pod". The task: to develop, design and build a prototype capsule ("pod") to be tested in a vacuum tube built by the US aerospace company SpaceX. Shortly after the competition's announcement, a student group was formed at TUM, eager to respond to the call and participate in the competition. Over the years, TUM's student initiative was repeatedly able to prevail against international competing student teams from renowned universities. Most recently, the team from Munich won the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in July 2019 – for the fourth time in a row, breaking its own speed record of 482 km/h.
Inspired by the passion of the student initiative, encouraged by the enthusiasm of the Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Markus Söder and supported by the Bavarian State Government, the Department of Aerospace and Geodesy has been preparing a large interdisciplinary research program on the Hyperloop topic since 2018. Many institutes and chairs from different areas of the university are now part of the new TUM Hyperloop program. This highly interdisciplinary field of research brings together the many competencies of the University of Excellence. As over the last years, many motivated students are involved in the program, coordinated by the non-profit organization NEXT Prototypes e.V.
"The Hyperloop vision is becoming reality at the Technical University of Munich. We are combining specialized knowledge from various fields such as drive and high-power technologies, lightweight design, traffic route construction and geodetic engineering to develop a functional and safe technology for the super-high-speed train. Additionally we have the pioneer spirit, enthusiasm and invaluable experience of the TUM Hyperloop student team. The team has already built several prototypes of the transport pod and won the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in Los Angeles four consecutive times to emerge victorious as the speed world champion. The Department of Aerospace and Geodesy at the TUM Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen campus near Munich is ideal for the focused ongoing development of this knowledge and for promoting our talented young individuals' passion for the innovative technologies of the future."
Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann, President of TUM