Pod Racers Wanted: SpaceX Announces Hyperloop Competition


Hawthorne, California is hardly Tatooine—but if entrepreneur and Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] CEO Elon Musk gets his way, both will boast pod racing.

Plenty of details are still to come, but SpaceX, which is also headed by Musk, has announced a competition to challenge universities and independent teams to design pods for the Hyperloop concept outlined two years ago. The system is akin to a train running in a pneumatic tube, and powered by a combination of magnetic force and air pressure.

In theory, it would allow passengers to travel at up to 800 mph.

After a review by SpaceX, the pods will be tested—sans human passengers—on a scale-version Hyperloop in Hawthorne, near Los Angeles. Certainly, plenty of academic institutions will be interested in the challenge. But it's worth noting the facility is just miles from El Segundo, a city loaded with aerospace firms, including heavyweights like Boeing and Northrop Grumman. So it's possible some local engineering talent could spawn competitive hobbyist efforts.

All entries are required to be open source, in keeping with Musk's desire for the technology to spread independently of his company. And the move appears to be working: Late last month, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced its intention to build a five-mile test version the Hyperloop on a site off Interstate 5 in California.

The contest's complete rules are available on the SpaceX website. Applications are due by September 15th.

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