The "student Hyperloop pod racer competition" Elon Musk teased back in January is actually happening. SpaceX just announced an official contest open to university students and independent engineering teams. The company will release detailed rules, criteria, and tube specifications in August.
The challenge will be to build "human-scale pods" to be tested on the Hawthorne, California test track that will be built next to the SpaceX headquarters, but the company is careful to note that no humans will ride in the pods. All the designs submitted must be open source.
Elon Musk has been adamant that he doesn't want to build out a Hyperloop infrastructure itself, but this is a way his company can stay involved in the acceleration of the technology. (The guidelines for the competition do say that SpaceX will likely build a pod "for demonstration purposes," however.) Teams have until September 15th to submit their intent to compete, and will need to submit the final designs by December 15th. A competition is scheduled at the Hawthorne test track in June of next year.
Entrants will race their pods at a test track next year
Once the designs have been submitted, SpaceX will bring the entrants to Texas A&M University for a "design weekend" in January of 2016. There, the teams can have SpaceX officials vet the proposals and provide feedback. Companies will also have a chance to sponsor teams, and according to SpaceX they will be able to "contribute funds, at their discretion, toward the construction of a team’s competition pod."
SpaceX is also asking for input on other parts of the pod, like individual safety features, or optimizing the pod’s aerodynamics, though entries focused on just these aspects won't be eligible to participate in the competition weekend.
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