The Hyperloop is a concept for a transportation system whereby a capsule inside a near-vacuum tube can accelerate up to around 1,220 kilometers (760 miles) per hour, providing a rapid transport system for passengers. It’s estimated that a trip from Washington D.C. to New York City would take just 30 minutes.
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction – and at the moment, it is. But the company that is aiming to develop this technology has announced they are making significant progress, and will start building a test track next year in Quay Valley, California.
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk first proposed the idea of the Hyperloop in 2013. At the time, he said he wasn’t looking to develop the idea himself, but was instead releasing the idea for others to develop. Thus sprung up Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), founded by JumpStartFund, who decided to push ahead with Hyperloop’s development.
The company has been looking for volunteers across a range of disciplines – from engineers to technicians – to help make the dream a reality. The company has now revealed they have more than 400 professionals on board, while companies including Oerlikon, Aecom and Hodgetts & Fung were involved to provide support. And they also confirmed 2016 as the year they would start building the first test track.
The test track, illustrated, will be eight kilometers (five miles) long. HTT/JumpStartFund.
"Our team continues to grow and, along with these new alliances, is representative of the collaborative spirit of HTT and are key to our success in breaking ground in 2016," said Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of HTT, in a statement. "We receive applications from professionals and are approached by industry leading companies every day."
Their test track will be an elongated loop eight kilometers (five miles) long, designed to explore how well the Hyperloop works. The ultimate goal in the future is to use Hyperloop as a high-speed means of connecting cities, such as San Francisco to Los Angeles, which could be covered in just 30 minutes. Some remain skeptical, citing the huge development costs, but the company is confident that as early as 2018 they can start building a city-to-city line. Inner-city lines are also on the agenda.
While Musk himself doesn’t plan to be directly involved in the development of the Hyperloop yet, his company SpaceX is planning to hold a competition next year to see who can design the best capsule. More than 1,200 competitors, mostly university students and independent engineers, have signed up to take part.
When or if it comes to fruition remains to be seen, but there’s certainly no lack of desire to get this so-called “fifth mode of transport” – after rail, sea, road and air – up and running.