Elon Musk’s SpaceX announced on Monday, June 15th that the firm plans to hold a competition next year for university students and/or independent engineering teams to design a scale model pod for a Hyperloop, an innovative high-speed transportation concept championed by Musk.
SpaceX is also planning to build a one-mile test track for the Hyperloop pods next to its headquarters in Hawthorne, California. This track would serve as a test facility for qualified entrants to test their new pod designs.
Of note, the pod is the “vehicle” for the Hyperloop where passengers will be seated during the trip. The test pods in the competition, however, will not be carrying any human riders.
More on the Hyperloop pod design competition
The announcement notes the Hyperloop pod design competition is open to anyone, including commercial ventures, but SpaceX said it planed to emphasize university students and non-affiliated engineering teams. The competition involves designing and building half-scale passenger pods based on design specifications that will be available later this summer.
Teams must officially sign up for the competition by September 15th. A “design weekend” is planned for Texas A&M University on January 9, 2016. The teams’ proposed Hyperloop pod designs will be judged and receive feedback from a panel of experts from SpaceX, Tesla and academia.
Although not the first person to suggest such a mode of transportation, Musk was among the first to really develop the idea of the Hyperloop back in 2013. He described the concept as a network of pneumatic tubes through which passenger pods could travel at speeds of more than 750 mph. He also hypothesized that a trip between San Francisco and LA would just take 35 minutes, and only cost $20 for a one-way ticket.
The competition calls for the completed model Hyperloop pods to compete in a series of races in June 2016.
Earlier statement from SpaceX
“We are excited that a handful of private companies have chosen to pursue this effort,” SpaceX noted in a statement earlier this year. “Neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is affiliated with any Hyperloop companies. While we are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves, we are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype.”