Elon Musk and SpaceX Want Your ideas

Imagine travelling from Los Angeles to San Francisco - a distance of 400 miles - in under half an hour and for free. Well, that’s exactly what a new transportation system envisioned by Elon Musk, CIO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, sets out to do. 

The ambitious Hyperloop idea, first officially revealed in a whitepaper published in 2013, is being built by Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of the Hyperloop Transportation Technologies,Inc. 

Hyperloop Train
“While we are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves, we are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype
- Official statement:http://www.spacex.com/hyperloop
“The Hyperloop is a capsule full of people inside a tube elevated on pylons,” says Ahlborn. “Inside the tube we create a low pressure environment so the capsule doesn’t encounter a lot of resistance and can reach speeds of 1,200kmh (740mph).”

Less than two years later, SpaceX builds a 1-3 miles long Hyperloop test track outside its Hawthorne, California headquarters with plans to test the technology within a year.

Next step: Collect ideas for pod design in the Open Competition, hosted by SpaceX.

Ahlborn’s Dream team

Ahlborn put together the team of around 360 professionals who applied for the right to work on the project and nearly all of them have day jobs at the companies like NASA, Yahoo!, Boeng, Airbus, Salesforce and Stanford. They’ve been attracted with stock options in the company and by the importance of the project.

The major hype around this idea to actually shoot out people through tubes close to the speed of sound attracted over 10,000 people from academia and engineering who contribute their ideas daily to help Hyperloop become a reality.

How close are they?

Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, there is now a quite good chance that affordable or even free superfast transportation may become our reality in the coming decade.

Comparison between Hyperloop idea and California Speed RailWhat started as an alternative idea to the most expensive public works project in the US history - California High-Speed Rail and its 220 miles per hour trains and costs that exceed $70 billion dollars, soon became an open source project that attracts young minds across the globe to make Hyperloop reality

Hyperloop will consist of the two parallel tubes standing on pylons with vacuum through which capsules with passengers will be propelled to the desired destination at the top speed of 1200 km/h.

Ahlborn says the questions of how to build the low-pressure tube and the pylons that support it have mostly been solved, and creating the capsules shouldn’t be too tricky. So a lot of the technical and feasibility issues people were debating are solved.

There are many more to resolve ahead, for sure. The biggest issues are speed and scale.

The SpaceX Competition

They need more ideas to piece together the big Hyperloop puzzle and in the spirit of the true open source project SpaceX launched the Official SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition to get to the best Pod’s design and prototype faster.

The challenge is aimed at students and independent engineering teams and will be hosted at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California next June. 

Groups that want to join in will have to do so by September 2015, with the first “design weekend” being held in January 2016. The finished race will be held in June 2016.

Companies will also be able to attend the contest to see what teams they might be interested in sponsoring.

If you have any idea on how to create or design pods that can carry people through the tube at the speed of 200 mph, you might get a job!

Here is an example of interior design suggested by Argodesign:

You have a better design idea for future trains? Join the Competition.

Submission ends 5pm PDT on Sept. 15, 2015

Rules & Prizes

No word on prize at the moment.

Full rules and other details of the SpaceX competition will be released in August.

Next January, entrants will meet for a design weekend at the Texas A&M University. The designs will be presented before an evaluation panel composed mainly of engineers from SpaceX and Musk’s luxury electric-car company, Tesla Motors, and university professors.

Private companies will be able to use the weekend to choose teams to sponsor and fund.

SpaceX said it also probably will build its own pod for demonstration purposes, but its team won’t be eligible to win the competition. The company also will have the final say on who actually gets to use the test track.

Official SpaceX Hyperloop competition document


Question remains...

How will they effectively manage the response from all who accept this challenge? The answer may lie in software solutions such as: Innovation Cloud and DataStation. Innovation Cloud is free idea management online software that might be just what SpaceX needs to host this challenge competition. 


Step up

Musk and Ahlborn leverage crowdsource, crowdfunding and open innovation principles to bring as many minds a possible to sort and answer the myriad of the questions coming with this ambitious idea.

As the leaders, they both have enough experience, belief and persistence to drive this to execution. And deep pockets of the many investors.

So step up, join his team and create something of meaning, or continue working on your next big app or operating system.

The choice is always yours.


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