MESA, Ariz. - The fastest track team at ASU isn't where you'd think it would be -- at the Sun Angel Track complex on the Tempe campus.
Head east to the ASU Polytechnic campus where over 100 members of the AZLoop team are hoping to reach speeds of about 750 mph just in time for their biggest competition -- the latest SpaceX student technology competition.
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, and his crew of technology innovators are in search of a mass transit vehicle that can reach speeds of 750 mph using propulsion he calls a "Hyperloop."
The AZLoop team is made up of students from all ASU campuses, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and NAU. All are working toward the goal of trying to safely deliver passengers in a vehicle from Phoenix to San Diego in about a half an hour.
Over the past five months, the team has developed a pod-like capsule that will rocket down a steel tube on a smooth track in a near-vacuum environment. So far so good, but the team has a few more hurdles to clear before its vehicle is shooting across the desert at a blistering 700 mph.
"We want to make sure that we have the fastest pod in the competition," co-leader Lynne Nethken said. "But also just as important is to have controlled acceleration and deceleration," she added.
Nethken's co-leader, Josh Kosar, said he had his doubts that he and his fellow researchers would be able to produce a vehicle capable of reaching the goals set out by Musk and SpaceX. But after nearly two years, he says, "It's all systems go. We believe wholeheartedly that this technology is feasible, and significantly more efficient."
Looking forward 15 to 20 years, Kosar says the Hyperloop technology is "really going to impact the world when it hits."
AZLoop will be submitting its final technical plans to SpaceX, and then in May, construction is scheduled to begin for a test track on the ASU Polytechnic campus. Vehicle testing for the student team finalists in the Space X competition is slated for this summer.