HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com) – The public got a glimpse into Elon Musk’s latest venture to alleviate traffic with underground tunnels when SpaceX held the Hyperloop Pod Competition Sunday afternoon in Hawthorne.
Last month, the billionaire SpaceX and Tesla founder said that Los Angeles’ transportation issues had inspired him to launch a firm — the Boring Company – that would focus on traffic-alleviating underground tunnels.
“I find holes in the ground exciting,” Musk said Sunday. “And that’s really key to a lot of technologies, road tunnels, Hyperloop tunnels, train tunnels.”
Engineering teams from 30 colleges tested out pods on a track on Jack Northrop Avenue, between Crenshaw Boulevard and Prairie Avenue. The track was about three-quarters of a mile long and simulated how pods would possibly shoot through a vacuum-like underground tunnel, known as a Hyperloop, at about 70 miles per hour.
“We want to be there in Los Angeles right with him,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who attended the competition. “So your Los Angeles MTA is excited to partner and see what we can do.”
The engineering students from around the world competed to build the best, most efficient pod to carry people quickly from place to place. The teams that competed Sunday had been whittled down from 1,700 entries. They spent a year designing, building and passing more than one hundred engineering tests. The three finalists were from MIT and two universities in the Netherlands and Germany.
“It’s really amazing that we’re competing with best universities in the world,” said Lucas Spreiter, who was part of the Technical University of Munich, one of the three finalists.
Spreiter said his team’s pod is the only one with a compressor capable of sucking any leftover air out of the tube as it shoots through the Hyperloop.
Work on the tunnels has already begun along Crenshaw Boulevard, on the property of SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne.