Elon Musk’s vision of a high-speed vacuum tube transportation system, Hyperloop, has moved a very small step closer to reality with the announcement of a new partnership in Eastern Europe.
There are three companies working on Hyperloop at the moment: SpaceX, Hyperloop One, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT). And yesterday, the latter announced it had reached an “exploratory agreement” with the Czech city of Brno to conduct a feasibility study on connecting Brno with Bratislava, Slovakia, and Prague, the Czech capital.
“Connecting Brno with Prague, and the existing efforts in Bratislava along with other cities in the region with the next generation of transportation will set the stage for a new era,” said Brno Mayor Petr Vokřál in a statement. “We look forward to working with HTT to continue to bring innovation and opportunity to the city of Brno.”
Eastern Europe might seem like a bit of an odd place to build Hyperloop, especially as the company is based in the US. But the technology seems to be gaining traction on this side of the pond, with other countries including the UK, France, Austria, Hungary, and the United Arab Emirates all showing an interest.
As of yet, though, no working Hyperloop track has been built. The closest we’ve seen was a public test of the technology from Hyperloop One in May 2016. And there are still many concerns about its feasibility, most notably its price.
But that hasn’t stopped companies drumming up interest in a variety of countries. HTT said that the trip from Brno to Bratislava, 80 miles, could be reduced from 1.5 hours by regular train to just 10 minutes with Hyperloop, traveling at up to 1,220 kilometers (760 miles) per hour.
“Since we have solved all the technical issues, it is now crucial for us to collaborate with governments around the world,” said HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn in the statement. “It is critical for Hyperloop to be working directly with regulators at this stage of development, new rules and frameworks will need to be written as we begin building out systems in Slovakia, the Emirates and several other to come.”
Will Hyperloop ever really live up to the hype (see what we did there)? Who knows. But it’s good to see continued support for it. Here’s hoping for some breakthroughs this year.