One Hyperloop test track? Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Two? Okay, starting to get impressive.
Three? Now we’re listening.
Yes, in what is quickly becoming an intriguing race to be the first to develop Elon Musk’s idea for a 1,220 kilometer per hour (760mph) vacuum-tube passenger system, another contender has entered the fray.
This time around, engineering and construction firm Aecom is building a track for Musk’s own company, SpaceX. The previous two Hyperloop endeavors are separate from Musk and his companies, aside from the initial idea.
"Aecom has designed and built some of the world's most impressive transportation systems, so we appreciate how the development of a functioning Hyperloop with SpaceX can dramatically expand the ways people move across cities, countries and continents," said Aecom's CEO Michael Burke in a statement.
"What we are delivering is more than just a track to test pod prototypes; it's a glimpse into the future."
This track, which will be 1.8 meters (6 feet) wide and 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) long, will be built near SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of this year. And this weekend, SpaceX is holding a “Hyperloop Pod Competition” at Texas A&M University, to give teams a chance to design vessels to be used on the test track.
As mentioned, this is not the first Hyperloop project on the drawing board. Two others are in the works, from companies Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and the confusingly similar Hyperloop Technologies. They will be built in California and Nevada respectively. To add to the confusion, Aecom is also part-funding the former.
Nonetheless, this race is well and truly on. Since Musk first proposed the idea in 2012, no one has built a fully functioning Hyperloop system. But if the dream ever does come to fruition, we could see passengers transported large distances – say, Los Angeles to San Francisco – in a fraction of the time currently possible.