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The winner of a recent Hyperloop pod competition held by SpaceX, Delft Hyperloop has raised funding and spun off from Delft University of Technology. Dutch railway operator NS and the UNIIQ investment fund each invested €300K in the new venture to bring sustainable hi-speed travel closer to reality.
Hyperloop pod competition in California
A team of 30 students named just Delft Hyperloop first got wide press after winning a pod competition organised by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the US in January. Twenty-seven teams from across the world came to California, where a 1.25-kilometre-long test Hyperloop track was set up, to determine whose capsule would be the fastest. The winning small-scale pod constructed in Delft travelled at a maximum speed of 93 km/h, while the aim is to reach speeds of more than 1,000 km/h. The new company, Hardt, was founded by four students from the initial team who decided to press forward towards this goal.
NS expects rail-related spin-offs and energy efficiency improvements
The main principle of Hyperloop, where pods are supposed to be propelled through low-pressure tubes by passive magnets, in conjunction with a possibility to mount solar panels on top of the tube means that it can be one of the most sustainable means of transportation. That’s what NS is after—as its spokesperson told RTL, the company wants to use Hardt’s innovation to increase energy efficiency of its own. “As a major consumer of electricity, anything that can help us drive trains more efficiently is pure profit,” the spokesperson said.
“Operational test track within 10 years”
Hardt CEO Tim Houter told NU.nl that the award-winning prototype was built in about a year, and that with the fresh funding the team should be able to construct the first usable model in four years. “Our ambition is to lay down a first high-speed system in probably the next ten years.” he said. “Together, as a country, we will lift global mobility to a new level and the Netherlands to the top in the field of innovative technology. The seed capital provided by UNIIQ, Delft Enterprises, and NS Innovatiefonds will certainly accelerate momentum for a new era of transport.”