This summer, SpaceX will be determining the winner of their Hyperloop Pod Competition, which is being overseen by Elon Musk’s private space flight company. While neither Musk nor SpaceX are affiliated with any companies developing a commercial Hyperloop, both parties are looking to help accelerate the development of a working Hyperloop pod prototype.
The Hyperloop Pod Competition entrants include university students and independent engineering teams, one of which came together in a less-than-conventional way: Reddit.
rLoop, which is in fact the only non-student team to reach the competition’s final stage, was formed in June 2015 and is the world’s first non-profit, open source, online think tank. The community is comprised of motivated individuals and professionals who have “embraced modern online collaboration tools to amass a global wealth of talent and resources.”
Among their pool of talents there are engineers from NASA, Tesla, CERN, GE, Honeywell, and many other tech companies. These people have volunteered their time and expertise towards developing a functional Hyperloop pod prototype.
rLoop uses various collaboration tools like Google Docs, Slack, and Trello to coordinate all the work needed to accomplish their goal, as none of its members actually meet in person to work on the Hyperloop.
The team began with setting a modest goal of submitting a viable pod proposal for the SpaceX design weekend, which would become the Hyperloop Pod Competition. From there, rLoop was one of 125 teams selected to present their design, and they would go on to win “Best Non-Student Team.”
rLoop is one of only 30 teams invited to participate in the final competition.
Now, the team must find a way to fund the construction of their design and they’re doing it the spirit of how rLoop came to be, crowdfunding through Indiegogo. “We figured that crowdsourcing got us this far, than why not let it get us over the finish line,” says rLoop CEO Brent Lessard.
“Our partnership with Indiegogo will allow for people all over the world who share in our vision to support us without necessarily having to commit their time or technical expertise. We’re hoping to raise $60,000, which will be enough to cover the costs to build the rPod and get our team to California this summer for the competition. We’re offering some truly awesome perks and our confident we’ll reach, and hopefully surpass, our funding goals.”
Win or lose, rLoop stands a shining monument for online collaboration and the Internet’s power to connect people.