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Hyperloop designers will battle it out on a real test track at SpaceX HQ this weekend

Getty ImagesSource: SpaceX

SpaceX is pitting teams of hopeful Hyperloop designers against each other at its headquarters this weekend, giving each team a chance to test its Hyperloop pod on a mile track at SpaceX headquarters.

It is the second major phase of a competition meant to bring to life a new transportation concept first developed by SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The Hyperloop Pod Design Competition was first announced in 2015, and designs from more than 100 teams were first judged in early 2016. About 30 teams made the cut and were allowed to progress to the upcoming test track battle.

Several teams have already been showing off their designs.

Musk first began publicly discussing his ideas for a "hyperloop" that would blast riders from San Francisco to Los Angeles in about 35 minutes, about half of the time a flight between the two cities takes, and, of course, a fraction of the time it would take to drive there. At the time he first designed it, Musk cited his frustration with the cost and performance of a proposed high-speed rail project linking northern and southern California.

The concept resembles in appearance those pneumatic tube systems used to send messages through buildings, though Musk said in a written proposal that his Hyperloop would require more innovation than merely enlarging existing pneumatic pipeline designs.

He estimated the project would cost less than $6 billion for two one-way tubes and 40 capsules. "Amortizing this capital cost over 20 years and adding daily operational costs gives a total of $20 USD plus operating costs per one-way ticket on the passenger Hyperloop," he wrote.

Musk has not taken on the effort himself, but a handful of companies and organizations have sprung up since then, attempting to make Musk's vision, or something like it, a reality.

However, most of the teams competing this weekend hail from universities, not startups.

SpaceX said on its website that it will host another Hyperloop competition this summer, open only to student groups.