The sketches and plans were all there, Musk liked them and they won. Now they just need to build it. With them, other companies emerged, trying to win the race and make tubular travel a real option.

MIT students won the first round of SpaceX Hyperloop challenge, an international high-speed transportation competition design contest, inspired by the visionary Elon Musk himself and sponsored by SpaceX. The MIT students now have to make their dream jump off the paper into reality. They plan to start working on their winning pod early in March and test the prototype at the grand finale this summer, when all selected pods are to compete at the SpaceX Hyperloop test track (with date and location TBA).

Another company that's also developing its own version of the ultrafast passenger pod, is Hyperloop Technologies, planning to complete its first demo version by the end of this year.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is SpaceX's second rival in making traveling safe, convenient and 'as fast as the speed of sound'. They plan to build a completely self sufficient system, with solar panels placed along the track to produce excess amounts of the energy, required to run the tube.

The biggest challenge everybody is facing right now is how to come up with a design, a structure that would not only meet the set criteria (being self-powering, self-sustaining, earthquake-resistent, immune to various weather conditions, and so on), but would also be affordable to produce, maintain and use. Even the best design won't do much good if no government in the world would back it to become the fifth mode of transport, just because the fare would cost silly-times more than the current bus or a train ticket, or because it would be impossible to cover damage costs, if something malfunctioned.

These 'concerns', however, are the type of challenges all the inventors face, when trying to produce something ground-breaking, rules-changing, yet government-friendly. Sooner or later, tubular travel is bound to become a daily routine for the masses, the only real question is - how soon?

To see Elon Musk make a surprise appearance and hear him speak at the Hyperloop Pod Award Ceremony that took place on 30 January 2016, check the video below. 

Feb. 26, 2016 Living photo: Profimedia

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