Hyperloop Reveals It Has Received 125 Preliminary Designs for Passenger Pods

Hyperloop reveals some tasty news about its student design competition. 

by Sam Blum

Since June, a number of university students and engineers have participated in SpaceX’s Hyperloop pod design competition, which affords would-be innovators the chance at shaping the future of transportation — pending their prototypes are up to snuff.

Preliminary design briefs for passenger pods that will travel in the Hyperloop — Elon Musk’s transportation concept that will shuttle the passengers in pods traveling 700 mph through a tube with air compressors, like a puck on an air hockey table — were due Friday, November 13.

This week, SpaceX remained quiet on the number of preliminary design briefs it received.

At SpaceX, where the information was shared internally, some employees were a little surprised at the actual number of design submissions, a source at the company told Inverse.

The actual, real, verified, glistening, and official number was revealed by Hyperloop today:

At first blush, the 125 submissions seem like a healthy amount: not a resounding or overwhelming showing, yet not an entire bust either.

Today, a SpaceX official confirmed to Inverse that several other preliminary briefs were submitted by non-student groups, although the company’s focus moving forward will be determining if 125 student submissions are legitimate, and ready to be assessed as actual contenders for Hyperloop.

Once determined appropriate by Hyperloop, student teams will assemble on the weekend of January 29-30, 2016 at Texas A&M University, where they’ll showcase their prototypes during the competition’s Design Weekend.

One of the main impediments for any student group is a lack of funding, but SpaceX intends to help shoulder the load, at least in terms of finding different corporate sponsorships for designs that really stand out.

In the competition’s rules and requirements update from October 20, SpaceX notes:

“Select companies invited by SpaceX will be able to use Design Weekend as a platform for selecting teams to sponsor. At their discretion, such companies may contribute funds toward the construction of their sponsored team’s Competition Weekend Pod.”

This should be welcome news to various groups experiencing a dearth of capital.

After all, electromagnetic fields do not come cheap.

It’s still early days for the passenger pod design teams: After the design weekend in January in Texas, selected pods will be tested out next summer at the Hyperloop test track in California.

When it’s finished, Musk envisions that the Hyperloop will carry passengers from LA to the Bay Area in about 35 minutes and be safer and faster than planes or trains.