By Jeff Todd
GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)– Colorado is starting to position itself as a leader on the hypothetical Hyperloop on several different fronts.
Students at the Colorado School of Mines are putting finishing touches on their pod before it’s shipped to California for testing and the competition Aug 25-27.
“The goal of this competition is to reach the highest speed possible and stop safely so you don’t go out the back end of the tube and wreck,” said team leader Austin Genger.
The School of Mines team is one of the smaller and minimally-funded teams in the country, they are asking for support.
More than 1,000 teams submitted plans to get a pod up to speed, and only about two dozen were chosen.
The School of Mines is the only representation from Colorado and many of the students are participating as part of their senior project.
The Hyperloop has been a concept made more popular by Space X CEO Elon Musk in 2015. Now many teams are hoping they have come up with the technology that thinks it could get people across the region or the country in minutes instead of hours. The concept calls for the pod to reach speed around 700 mph.
The biggest issue for teams in this competition is to get the pod up to speed and brake all on battery power.
“Being on the cutting edge of science is mind blowing,” Genger said. “We think we may be in one of the top positions but we don’t truly know for sure.”
Hypothetically the Mines pod could reach up to 280 mph. The team is using nearly 300 drone batteries to power a 500 Horsepower motor. The test track less than a mile long.
“We don’t actually know what we would win aside from bragging rights. I thought this project was pretty cool myself as did pretty much all of us here,” Genger.
The hope is Mines will have the top speed, and their technology can be moved forward with developing the Hyperloop pods in the future.
“For mass transportation it will need a little more time, but it’s definitely feasible,” Genger said.
CDOT announced in January that it was chosen as a semi-finalist for another company, Hyperloop One, with the concept of connecting the Denver International Airport to Greeley with just five minutes of travel time.
Many experts say the Hyperloop could prosper and thrive in Colorado along the Front Range either above or below ground. However, there are no solid plans for construction or even financing the massive projects.
As the School of Mines team is showing, the Hyperloop could be more conceptual than practical at this time. But that’s not going to stop the students from trying.
“We thought, this would be a pretty awesome thing to finally be working on,” said Genger.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.