Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Pod Competition is getting some attention from the US government.
The US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx will attend and speak at the Hyperloop design challenge, which will be hosted at Texas A&M University January 29 and 30th.
Participants will showcase their Hyperloop passenger pod designs to judges during Design Weekend for a chance to move on to the final round. Qualifying teams will get a chance to test the pods on a one-mile test track at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. in June 2016.
Foxx, who is admittedly bullish on high-speed trains, has said that he sees high-speed rail playing a major role in the US transportation system during the next 30 years.
“I do think we are going to see high-speed rail happen in this country,” Foxx said at a Google event earlier this year. “I’m seeing some activity in Texas and in Florida that encourages me that this is going to be something that happens in this country and hopefully we can get it all connected together over time.”
Currently, Florida and California have high-speed rail projects in the works. And Texas is in the early stages of planning a high-speed rail from Dallas to Houston.
Earlier this year, under Foxx’s leadership, the US Department of Transportation published a framework called “Beyond Traffic 2045” that examines how technologies could transform technology during the next 30 years. While the report doesn’t mention the Hyperloop specifically, it does cite high-speed railways and maglev trains as a promising solution to help ease congestion and to grow regional economies.
Specifically, two companies in California, Hyperloop Transportation Technology and Hyperloop Technologies, are betting heavily that Hyperloop will be the better answer and are racing to develop the technology and bring it to market.
Both companies have already pledged to begin construction of test tracks in the US as soon as next year.
While Musk is not pursuing the Hyperloop commercially, his Hyperloop Pod Competition has helped generate support for the transport system.
Despite the attention the technology is getting in the US, though, it’s likely the first Hyperloop system that stretches hundreds of miles will be built first in the Middle East or in Asia, primarily because getting the rights to the rideaway is much easier in those regions.
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