Founder of SpaceX and all around tech enthusiast Elon Musk held a competition this past weekend exploring the capabilities of underground pods traveling at breakneck speeds. SpaceX held its first Hyperloop Pod design competition, inviting 27 teams from around the world, most of which were associated with a university, to design the Hyperloop pods.
Hyperloop technology (PDF), an idea that has been around for a while, but has been recently popularized by Musk, involves passenger transportation in a pod-like vehicle through a near-vacuum tube faster than airline speed. While still theoretical, other companies have spun off the idea, working to make breakthroughs in the field.
The purpose of the competition, according to SpaceX, is “to help accelerate the development of a functional Hyperloop prototype and encourage student innovation by challenging university students to design and build the best Hyperloop pod.”
The test track was less than a mile long and simulated how pods would move through an underground hyperloop tunnel. An actual tunnel is being built by Musk, who sent out this tweet:
Exciting progress on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2017
“We want to be there in Los Angeles right with him,” said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who attended the event. “So your Los Angeles MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] is excited to partner and see what we can do.”
The teams put their pods through several tests over the last week in hopes of making it into the Hyperloop test track itself. The second part of the competition will occur in summer 2017.