Crowd contesting for innovation in transportation

There are number of ways how to induce innovation in the different fields. One of the interesting methods for generating new innovative ideas and approaches is crow contesting. Crowd contesting is an open contest that allows anyone to participate with his/her idea. To guarantee the outcome quality, a strict contest requirements and schedules has to be followed by every participating individual or team. To motivate participants for joining and actively devoting their effort, different types of incentives are used, such as monetary rewards, public recognition, and sponsorship funding offers. Furthermore, often times a passion in the particular field of contest is the main driver for participants. Crow contest is an efficient way of leveraging a power of competition to generate new ideas and approaches based on the theme of the contest.

Crowd contesting has been used recently by a SpaceX company to generate new designs, approaches, and technology for innovation in new a mode of transportation: Hyperloop. Specifically, in June 2015, SpaceX announced a contest for young engineering teams of students to compete in designing new Pods, vehicles that would be used in Hyperloop transportation (SpaceX, 2015). Teams of students from 27 different countries has joined the competition. Each team represented its University where they have been developing new pod designs. The strict schedule and rules were outlined by SpaceX. In addition, each design of the pod had to meet minimal technical requirements in order to be accepted in the contest. That way SpaceX ensured the quality of the outcomes of the competition.

On the 15th December 2015, teams submitted the final designs to the SpaceX for evaluation. A board of expert evaluated each design following certain criteria. The winning teams would be offered a funding to realize their design and compete in the next round that will be organized in June 2016. A team of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology won the best overall design. The second place was awarded to a team of students from the TU Delft University in Netherlands (Hawkins, 2016). A number of other teams were awarded prices in different fields such as safety, braking technology, and used materials of their designed pods.

In the second round of the contest the teams will be competing on the actual usage of their designs. The wining teams will be offered a funding to develop their designs further. Each vehicle of the team will be graded on the maximum speed achievable in the 1 kilometre range. In addition, a braking capability of the pods will be assessed, because each pod has to stop at the end of the test track.

The method of crowd contesting has achieved a remarkable result so far in the case of SpaceX Hyperloop competition. Not only teams of students could put their ideas into practise, but also the teams could experience the technologies of others. By gathering the knowledge of smart engineering students, SpaceX was able to move the idea of Hyperloop mode of transportation from a “dreaming” phase to a “getting real” phase. In addition, crowd contesting is a great way of incubating new ideas for other companies, that heavily pursue innovation.


Hawkins, A. J., 2016. MIT wins SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition, and Elon Musk made a cameo. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 11 February 2016].

SpaceX, 2015. SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 10 Februry 2016].

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