University of Maryland students build Hyperloop Pod prototype

University of Maryland students build Hyperloop Pod prototype (Kellye Lynn/ABC7)

For nearly two years, University of Maryland students have dedicated themselves to a project that could influence the future of transportation.

Project Manager Neel Patel, 21, considers it an extraordinary opportunity.

"Being able to say 20 years down the line, I worked on that when it was brand new, is a pretty awesome feeling," Patel shared.

The team, known as UMD Loop, is involved in the Space X Hyperloop Pod Competition.

"The Hyperloop is a new form of transportation. It's taking a tube and vacuuming out the air and then you can put what we call a pod inside that tube and you can accelerate it up to speed," Team Captain Kyle Kaplan, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering, explained.

The Hyperloop uses powerful magnets to help the pod levitate at high speeds and get passengers to their destination seven times faster. Elon Musk said the government has approved a plan to build a Hyperloop that would take passengers from D.C. to New York in less than 30 minutes.

Twenty-seven teams created a scaled down pod then took their design to California in January to compete on the Space X track.

The experience answered important questions about the prototype.

"We learned that it worked," Patel offered.

Kaplan continued, "We placed first in Performance in Operations, fifth in Design and Build and we were one of five teams in the entire world to race on Space X's race rack."

The next step is to build a pod that will move at maximum speed.

"Whether they're looking at the control systems or safety systems, the levitation arrays, all of this is new territory that they're exploring," Chief Faculty Advisor Noah Ryder expressed.

"Magnetics, just so many different things you would never be exposed to in a classroom, I get that experience here," Kaplan agreed.

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