Hyperloop test track
SpaceX will create a mile-long test track for teams to test Hyperloop pods in 2016SpaceX

Elon Musk and his rocket company SpaceX are to build a track and host a series of Hyperloop pod races in June 2016.

First announced by Musk in 2013, Hyperloop is a 700 miles per hour public transport system, similar to a train, which will blast passengers through a tube at the speed of sound between two cities.

To encourage development of Hyperloop systems, Musk and SpaceX will produce a one mile long test track opposite the company's Hawthorne headquarters in California. Independent teams of engineers and university students are asked to submit their ideas for Hyperloop now.

Teams are asked to build human-scale prototypes, which will be fired along the mile-long test track in an effort to determine what the best design for such a transport system should look like and how it should work. A number of companies have already started work on creating a Hyperloop, and now Musk and SpaceX want to help accelerate their findings to date.

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The test track will be ready by June 2016Hyperloop

SpaceX said on its website: "Neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is affiliated with any Hyperloop companies. While we are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves, we are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype.

"For this reason, SpaceX is announcing an open competition, geared towards university students and independent engineering teams, to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. To support this competition, SpaceX will construct a one-mile test track adjacent to our Hawthorne, California headquarters.

"Teams will be able to test their human-scale pods during a competition weekend at the track, currently targeted for June 2016. The knowledge gained here will continue to be open-sourced."

Although pods must be human-sized, there will be no passengers sitting in them for these early tests. Musk said earlier in 2015 that Hyperloop tests would take place, but back then he suggested Texas would be the location of the test track.

A 57-page white paper detailing the Hyperloop train, which would carry passengers on a cushion of air through a partially evacuated tube, was first revealed to the public in 2013. Since then, plans have been made to produce a series of prototypes ready for a technical feasibility study expected to begin in mid-2015.

The Hyperloop transportation system would be capable of travelling between San Francisco and Los Angeles in around 35 minutes, Musk claimed in the white paper, and the 400-mile route would cost an estimated $6bn to $10bn (£3.8bn to £4.6bn).