Ireland’s offering to the SpaceX Hyperloop competition that took place last month, Éirloop, was awarded an innovation prize at the event in Hawthorne, California.

The self-described “scrappy Irish team” headed up by Dublin City University (DCU) students Bartek Baran and Akhil Voorakkara comprises engineering students from eight different Irish institutions, including: DCU, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tallaght, Maynooth University, Carlow Institute of Technology, and the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

The team managed to propel itself to international success despite being made up of primarily first-year students and submitting their designs on a shoestring budget, having drummed up a mere €500 in funding before finding out that they had proceeded to the next stage of the competition compared to the $90,000 other teams had raised at that point.

Since they entered the competition, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan, TD, publicly backed the team and didn’t rule out the possibility that the technology would eventually come to Ireland.

Éirloop ultimately did not emerge as a finalist in the competition, with the three coveted spots going to reigning champions WARR Hyperloop from Germany, Delft Hyperloop from the Netherlands and EPFLoop from Switzerland. WARR was crowned the winner for the third year in a row, reaching a peak speed of 467 kph (290 mph) and beating the record it set last year.

Hyperloop began as an idea Elon Musk first proposed in a 2013 white paper. The white paper outlined Musk’s ambition of creating a system that could run from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 35 minutes, faster than any existing rail or air options.

Though he was enthusiastic about the idea, it was not something he could budget the time to develop, so he instead explicitly open-sourced it and has encouraged other teams and start-ups, such as the ones involved in this competition, to take the ideas and develop them.

Eva Short

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