Nearly two years ago, Elon Musk unveiled a blueprint for the Hyperloop: a fantastical, futuristic train that would link San Francisco and Los Angeles by means, essentially, of a giant tube. If the system worked, he said, four or five riders could whisk along the 350-mile long track in half an hour—a mode of transport both faster and cheaper than driving or flying.
Musk didn’t exactly design the Hyperloop though: He put a PDF about it on his website and said anyone could have a go. Since then, as many engineers have poked holes in its technical reasoning as companies have sprung up, trying to turn the conjecture into reality.
Neither Musk himself nor his astrophysics company, SpaceX, have touched the Hyperloop idea since August 2013. (The startups bearing the Hyperloop name, including Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, are not affiliated with either Musk or SpaceX.)
On Monday, though, both will take up the idea again. According to documents provided to The Atlantic, Musk and SpaceX are announcing a competition for the best Hyperloop pod design, targeted at university and independent engineering teams. The competition will include both a design competition and a build competition, for which teams will run half-scale pods down a Hyperloop test track.