Leaving out all non-geeks and people who have been living under a rock in the past year, but the Hyperloop is pretty exciting once you come to think about it. Just the concept of transporting people from point A to point B at such phenomenal speeds is enthralling even to a layman. For those who don’t know, the Hyperloop can transport a person from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 30 minutes. That’s 381 miles, or 615 kilometers!
Hyperloop is a concept proposed by Elon Musk in a 57-page paper, the founder of moonshot companies like SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, in 2013. It uses a pods that look like high-speed rods suspended in a vacuum tube to transport people at speeds of 750 MPH, or 1207 Km/Hr. The tubes are above-ground and use magnets, fans and depressurized tubes. The vacuum tubes create a low pressure that allows the pods to stay above the track, essentially hovering on top of the track. Plus, it uses solar energy to operate the pods by producing electricity.
Since the concept was introduced, rather than build it himself, Musk decided to let others to do the dirty work. Two startup companies have started to build a fully-functioning Hyperloop system. Both have similar names – Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop Technologies Inc. Now, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), with 400 team members including engineers from Boeing, SpaceX and NASA, announced plans for an 8km Hyperloop test track in Quay Valley, California. Just FYI, Quay Valley is just about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“This is not science fiction. Our feasibility study is nearly complete, and we are planning to build a full scale prototype,” says HTT.
Elon Musk is holding a competition in June 2016 for engineering teams and students to test their Hyperloop pod designs at a track built by his rocket company SpaceX in Hawthorne, California.
In fact, it might all become a reality in 2016, according to Hyperloop Technologies Inc. CEO Rob Lloyd.
“This company is moving so quickly, it’s astounding what we accomplish in days as weeks go by we make increasingly significant progress. We’ll be moving our first test system 400 miles per hour and all of that test system comes together in 2016 as we prove our own Kitty Hawk moment in moving this capability as an architecture at 700 miles per hour for a couple miles,” Lloyd says. He claims his system is three times the speed of current rail technology but costs 60% less.
Although Hyperloop might be futuristic, plans are to implement this concept in countries which face a lack of transportation infrastructure. “The first full-length track will be in Asia, the Middle East, India, or Africa," said Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of HTT.