The Hyperloop is a concept dreamed up by Musk that transports passenger pods through a network of pneumatic tubes. It is believed that the passenger pods could travel at speeds of up to 760 mph if built aerodynamically and with an eye towards stability. At that speed, a passenger could travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in roughly 35 minutes at a cost of about $20.
Several other groups have attempted to advance the concept since it was first introduced two years ago. A company called Hyperloop Technologies is developing hardware for the concept. Another company, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, is focusing on securing a deal to build a 5-mile test track in central California. SpaceX said in a statement, “We are excited that a handful of private companies have chosen to pursue this effort.”
The contest aims to make the Hyperloop concept a reality. The company will build a Hyperloop test track next to SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California that will be about one mile long. Next June, contestants will race their pods along the track to see how well they perform. SpaceX is encouraging university students and independent engineering teams to participate in the contest. Contest participants will be asked to design half scale passenger pods for the test track.
All participants must formally submit paperwork on their intention to participate in the contest no later than September 15. In the initial phase of the contest, scheduled for Jan. 9, 2016 at Texas A&M University, the teams would present their designs to a panel of experts for vetting. The chosen designs would then be built and pitted against each other on the test track in June 2016. No humans would be allowed in the pods during the competition.