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Hyperloop Test Track to Break Ground

Monday, January 18, 2016

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Elon Musk’s proposed Hyperloop transportation system appears poised to give the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s bullet train some competition for delivering the fastest ride from northern to southern California.

Several reports indicate that the steel tubes to construct a two-mile test track for the rail-less system have been delivered to a location in the Nevada desert.

CNN Money
CNN Money

With tubes delivered to the site of a planned two-mile test track, the first working Hyperloop track appears to be on schedule to operate by the end of 2016.

According to online tech magazine Engadget, Hyperloop Technologies CEO Rob Lloyd says this first working Hyperloop track could be ready for passengers by the close of 2016.

In an interview with CNN Money, Lloyd suggests the full point-to-point transport that comprises Musk’s vision could be completed as early as 2020.

A New Take on High-Speed Travel

Unlike high-speed rail (HSR), the Hyperloop doesn’t make use of rails. Instead, it is a depressurized cylinder made up of a series of tubes through which levitating cylindrical passenger (or freight) pods travel at high speeds on a cushion of air.

Lloyd described the functionality in a simplified manner. "You just remove the pressure from an enclosed environment—you can think of that as a tube,” he said. “You remove the friction of wheels by levitating that pod inside the tube, and then it takes a very little amount of energy to move that pod at incredible speed."

Hyperloop Technologies CEO Rob Lloyd notes that the Hyperloop can be built at 60 percent of the cost of rail lines, travel at three times the speed and, with its with its strict point-to-point travel, offer more flexibility than trains.

Lloyd notes that the Hyperloop can be built at 60 percent of the cost of rail lines, travel at three times the speed and, with its with its strict point-to-point travel, offer more flexibility than trains.

Capable of speeds of 700 mph, the Hyperloop is expected to reduce the travel time between San Francisco and Los Angeles to 30 minutes.

Comparatively, the Authority’s $68 billion HSR system would cover the same distance at 220 mph, likely making stops along the way, Tech.Mic notes.

A Group Effort

Musk open-sourced the project, inviting others to strike out on their own and make his concept a reality. In addition to Musk’s own SpaceX, two other startups, Hyperloop Technologies and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, have engineering teams working to deliver functional prototypes.

Additionally, SpaceX launched a competition, geared toward university students and independent engineering teams, inviting them to design and build the best Hyperloop passenger pods.

In November, finalists were selected from the preliminary design competition. While 318 designs were submitted to the SpaceX competition, only 124 teams were selected to move on, Drexel University independent student newspaper The Triangle reported Thursday (Jan. 14).

The advancing teams are working on finalizing their designs with the hopes of testing their three-quarter-scale pods at SpaceX’s proposed one-mile test track in Hawthorne, CA, this summer.

Teams will present their final designs at a Design Weekend at Texas A&M University, where they are hoping to gain the attention of sponsors to fund the build of prototypes for the June testing phase.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Rail; Research and development; Steel; Transportation

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