HYPED Hyperloop


Duration:2 years


Country: Edinburgh, UK

What did this project achieve?

Help develop the Hyperloop vacuum train transport system

Hyperloop is a high speed transit system proposed by US billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who founded online bank PayPal.

It could be called a vacuum train or ‘vactrain’ that zooms along at hundreds of miles per hour in a tube, slashing journey times.

The system uses reduced-pressure tubes with pressurised capsules riding on air bearings. Air bearings use a thin film of pressurised gas between surfaces. As the surfaces do not touch, there is no friction or wear or need for lubricants. The system would be driven by linear induction motors and air compressors.

The original concept suggests a route in north America from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay area.

Passengers would be propelled along the 350 mile (560km) system at an average speed of around 600mph (970km/h). The journey would take 35 minutes – far shorter than current rail or air travel times.

The idea was ‘open-sourced’ by Musk, with business and universities encouraged to develop it further.

HYPED is the University of Edinburgh Hyperloop Team. It’s made up of more than 100 students, including ICE student members, from Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt universities.

HYPED has designed and built the UK’s first Hyperloop prototype pod and competed in 2 international Hyperloop competitions.

Difference Hyperloop has made so far

HYPED has designed and built the UK’s first Hyperloop pod. It exhibited the prototype as part of Innovate 2017 at the NEC in Birmingham.

The pod carries a passenger – a life-size dummy called Dumminic – and demonstrates magnetic levitation, high-speed braking and on-board sensors for control and safety.

How the Hyperloop work has been done

HYPED uses digital design, 3D printing and a multi-disciplinary collaborative approach for the Hyperloop project.

The team’s work includes developing secondary pneumatic brakes for a Hyperloop pod. If there’s a power outage the brakes will clamp the centre rail using spring systems and bring the pod to a stop.

The team has also developed a magnetic propulsion system. The magnets rotate relative to the track. These produce currents to propel or brake the unit.

HYPED is currently designing a carbon-fibre pressurised pod to carry passengers.

The team designed and built their first pod prototype in only 10 months.


A cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table.

Elon Musk

speaking in May 2013 about Hyperloop

Fascinating facts

The Hyperloop would not be the first vacuum train. In 1864 engineer Thomas Webster Rammell showcased an experimental ‘atmospheric train’ in London between August and October of that year. The train ran in a partially airtight 1,800ft (550m) tunnel under Crystal Palace Park for 2 months. Power was provided by a large fan, 22ft (6.7m) across.

Some critics of the Hyperloop concept suggest the experience may be too unpleasant and frightening to be commercially viable. They say riding in a narrow, sealed and windowless capsule in a sealed steel tunnel at high speeds is likely to be noisy and claustrophobic.

Other Elon Musk projects include the driverless car and founding a colony on Mars. He has suggested his first Mars flights could leave as early as 2023.

People who made it happen

  • Original idea: Elon Musk
  • HYPED – the University of Edinburgh Hyperloop team

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