Elon Musk is a busy, busy man. Not only is he beavering away on helping us reach space for less money than ever before, he’s pushing the frontiers of electric vehicles and home energy solutions. And on top of all that, he’s a big fan of a near-vacuum tube transport system. As multifaceted as he and his billions of dollars are though, there are only so many hours in the day, so he’s taking more of a backseat on the idea of a HyperLoop, but wants to help us develop it.
Since the initial discussion of the concept of the magnet-and-fan-powered train system — which could see people travel hundreds of miles faster than they can fly — several companies, including Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, have taken the ball and have begun at least loping down the field with it. It’s with these companies that SpaceX is now running a pod-design competition and to test the designs, it’s building a mile-long track in Hawthorne, California; right next to its headquarters.
Oddly, for a competition, no prize has been announced, but presumably any winner would be the most likely to have its designs incorporated into the commercial passenger ‘pod’. SpaceX has said however that any key ideas will be open-sourced, so don’t go patenting anything just yet.
SpaceX/Tesla will also do a reference pod to be shown after the @Hyperloop competition. Bonus for all racing teams that exceed reference.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2015
Teams will have one year to design, develop and construct their pod, with tests planned for June 2016. And if building such a vehicle is beyond your means, you can simply design a pod, or an aspect of it, and note that the cut-off date for submission is September 15th by 5:00 p.m. PST. Those interested must also register on the official competition page.
Although one mile isn’t likely to be far enough to really get a pod up to speed, there are some very specific design specifications that must be considered for something that needs to be comfortable and safe enough for passengers to travel at hundreds of miles per hour in. It will be interesting to see what people come up with.