Europe's first real-size Hyperloop test track opened

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The first passenger rides start on the Hyperloop test track at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). With a 24-meter test tube at the Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen campus, Europe's first real-size Hyperloop test segment has been opened by Bavaria's Minister President Dr. Markus Söder and Bavarian Science Minister Markus Blume after less than a year of construction. The Hyperloop capsule is fully certified for passenger operation. Now the research group will primarily investigate propulsion, levitation and vacuum behavior.

transport people from A to B at more than 800 kilometers per hour: Researchers at TUM can now pursue this goal under the best conditions. Founded in 2020 from a student initiative, the TUM Hyperloop research group has since been working on a new, low-emission and, above all, fast way of traveling. After less than a year of construction, the 24-meter-long test track in the form of a concrete vacuum tube, a passenger capsule and the subsystems required for operation are now ready for practical research into Hyperloop technology. "We are now able to show the public what future Hyperloop systems could look like. The change from model scale to real dimensions and especially Europe's first passenger test under vacuum conditions are an important milestone for scaling the technology soon and realizing longer test segments," explains Gabriele Semino, project manager at TUM Hyperloop.

First test run with passengers already successful

The researchers were already able to prove that the TUM Hyperloop test segment is fully functional during a first test run. On July 10, 2023, the maiden voyage with passenger capsule took place inside the vacuum of the test tube. To enable operation with passengers, the demonstrator was certified by TÜV Süd for passenger operation. Acceptance by the testing service provider ensures safe operation of the facility and allows TUM Hyperloop to extensively test its systems.

Passenger capsule and concrete tube are tested

The TUM Hyperloop demonstrator consists of three elements. The most obvious part is the 24-meter-long test track in the form of a concrete tube. It measures about four meters in diameter and houses a platform as well as parts of the technology needed to levitate and propel the passenger capsule. The capsule has a full interior designed to provide a comfortable journey for up to five passengers. The passenger module is optimized for use in a vacuum. The third part of the facility is the operations control center, which houses the demonstrator's control system as well as components such as the powerful vacuum pumps. "We can use our facility to study in particular the propulsion system, levitation technology, the behavior of the capsule in a vacuum and safety aspects on a full-scale Hyperloop segment," says project manager Semino.

Successful in international competitions

Dr. Markus Söder, Bavarian Minister President, MdL: "Great respect for this spirit! Young students here have developed an inspiring idea into a strong statement for engineering and the future. Science makes our world a better place. That is why Bavaria is investing more than five billion euros in research and technology with its High-Tech Agenda. In addition to the Hyperloop test track, Europe's largest aerospace faculty is also currently being built here in Ottobrunn. This is where the future is being made."

Markus Blume, Bavarian Minister of Science, MdL: "The future of mobility begins in Bavaria: Europe's first real-size Hyperloop test segment is being launched in the Free State. Initially, it is only 24 meters, but today marks the dawn of a new era. The vision: sustainable, ultra-fast, safe transportation. The implementation: made in Bavaria at TUM. The special thing about it: the Hyperloop goes back to an initiative of our students - today the project is a unique research project and part of the high-tech agenda. With a passion for the future and technology, young talents are turning science fiction into reality and setting real standards. We are incredibly proud of the TUM Hyperloop team. Not only has it realized the test track, but it has already won Elon Musk's Hyperloop competition four times."

Dr. Alexander Braun, TUM Vice President for Digitization & IT Systems: "The Hyperloop project is prototypical of TUM's approach: thinking visionarily, discussing ideas productively, bringing people from different subjects together, working tenaciously on solutions, and thus developing technology at the highest level. What's great is that the foundations were laid by a group of students who have won international competitions several times. Thanks to funding from Hightech Agenda Bayern, Hyperloop development has now been elevated to the level of a major research program."

From city to city by hyperloop

Hyperloop systems pursue the vision of transporting transport and passenger capsules in tubes that are virtually empty of air. The vacuum is said to allow the capsules to move with almost no air resistance, raising the prospect of enormous speeds. TUM Hyperloop focuses on using the technology as a sustainable mobility concept for high-speed passenger transportation.

Hyperloop part of Bavaria's high-tech agenda

The TUM Hyperloop program has been part of the Hightech Agenda Bayern since 2020 and is thus co-financed by the Free State of Bavaria. As part of the Department of Aerospace and Geodesy at the TUM School of Engineering and Design, TUM Hyperloop draws on extensive knowledge and resources. A large number of TUM chairs and students as well as external partners are involved in the project.

Since 2015, TUM has been working on the vision of making mobility sustainable and, above all, significantly faster than before. The initiative, which was still student-run at the time, was founded to participate in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competitions, which Elon Musk had launched with his space company. The TUM team took first place in all four competitions. Confirmed by these successes, the current TUM Hyperloop research group was founded from the student project. The aim of the project is to build a reference route of the Hyperloop system over several development stages by the end of the decade, in which passengers can be transported at more than 800 kilometers per hour.

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The Department of Aerospace and Geodesy (ASG) was founded in spring 2018 as the 15th faculty of the Technical University of Munich and later incorporated into the TUM School of Engineering and Design. From new transportation systems to communication and satellite technology to planetary observation and measurement: In interaction with the geodetic disciplines, aerospace becomes a "Mission Earth". The department's headquarters are located in Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen. Many research areas of the Hyperloop program can also be found in aerospace, so that synergy effects are generated.