Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has received funding for a project many people see as closer to science fiction than domestic travel; the innovative tech giant is attempting to build a Hyperloop that travels from city to city at speeds of over 600 miles an hour.
The research and development group behind the Hyperloop scheme is appropriately called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and has received over $37 million in funding for testing. It has gathered engineers, scientists and researchers from NASA and SpaceX to shed light on how to best make Elon Musk’s vision a reality.
The Hyperloop will have begin its success story once it successfully makes good on its first proposition: a track would span from Los Angeles to San Francisco, a project that could cost as much as $8 billion and take three years to complete.
As expensive as that sounds, a previous plan to create a high-speed rail system that traveled from San Francisco to Los Angeles at a top speed of 220 miles per hour was said to cost about $82.5 million per mile of construction. HTT’s version of the Hyperloop would only cost $20 million per mile to create, yet another upgrade allowed by its extremely efficient, magnetized architecture.
“In 36 months we will have the first passenger in the first full-scale hyper loop,” chief operating officer at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Bebop Gresta stated. “We are announcing the filling of the first building permit to Kings County o the building of the first full-scale hyper loop, not a test track.”
The Hyperloop would constitute a futuristic tubular public transit system in which passengers enter a capsule like train and then are propelled by magnets across the land in a giant pipe. Capsules would travel at just below the speed of sound. By those calculations, people could travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in only 30 minutes.
The HTT is currently focused on making a smaller-scale project that would transport people across Quay Valley, California. That track will only be 5 miles long.
“This will be the world’s first passenger-ready Hyperloop system,” HTT Chief Executive Dirk Ahlborn stated. “Everyone traveling on California’s I-5 in 2016 will be able to see your activities from the freeway.”
“We think of this a more than a company, it’s a movement,” Ahlborn continued.
Quay Valley is a bit of a moment unto itself; the 75,000 resident solar-powered concept city is being built in King’s County, California, basically as an experiment. It is exactly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Its residents (who aren’t quite there yet) should be able to board the Hyperloop in 2018. According to Ahlborn, the Hyperloop would be able to span the length of Quay in 80 seconds. The ride will also be equipped with large windows and free WiFi, as well as some “Hollywood experiences.”
“Being in L.A. and being in Hollywood we think there’s maybe some movie experience on the screens,” Ahlborn explained. “Rather than a trailer, it’s like you are going through Jurassic World and look outside and you see dinosaurs outside. You would have the screens all over the capsule so everybody has kind of the same experience.”
According to the HTT, city-to-city hyper Hyperloops are possible, but due to regulations could not be built in the US within a 5 year period starting today.
For now, Hyperloop testing occurs mainly in desert stretches in Nevada.