The first successful public test of the Hyperloop could point to the future
Elon Musk’s Hyperloop One company, formerly known as Hyperloop Technologies, just completed its first public test in the Nevada desert. The unmanned sled reached 116 mph in 1.1 seconds.
This was the Hyperloop’s first public test, but there are more planned for this year. The company is even promising a “Kitty Hawk moment” later this year, referencing the sight of the Wright Brothers’ first successful flight of an airplane. The goal is to have a two mile test track complete in 2016, possibly as soon as summer.
“When you think of hyperloop, you think maybe this is gonna happen years from now,” said CEO Rob Lloyd. “It’s gonna happen much quicker than anyone imagines — and when it does, the world will never be the same.”
The test was just the first of many steps. The eventual goal is to construct a vacuum sealed tube, where a cart filled with passengers will face little-to-no air resistance. In theory, the cart will then be able to reach speeds of around 700 mph.
Hyperloop One is currently touting the potential of a Hyperloop train running nearly 400 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which would take around 30 minutes. Assuming the technology catches on though, there’s no reason similar trains couldn’t be located anywhere. The current test track is located north of Las Vegas; a track from Los Angeles to Las Vegas would be able to transport passengers in less than 25 minutes. For a city built on tourism, that would be a huge boon. Los Angeles to Seattle in under an hour would be a popular trip as well.
Hyperloop One isn’t the only company working on this technology, but it is the industry leader at the moment. Several people have been pushing for similar modes of transport for years, but it was Elon Musk’s support in 2013 that really brought it to the attention of the public. Since then it moved quickly from just an interesting concept to this first test.
Of course, this is all still just a concept. Even if the Hyperloop were ready today, it would still need to build a costly rail/tube system, which would in turn require a huge amount of cooperation (and money) from the local and federal government. Given that America still hasn’t fully embraced high-speed trains in many places, jumping past that technology for an expensive, and unproven new type might present some problems.
You can check out video of the first test below. The cart comes to a somewhat spectacular end thanks to its lack of breaks, but hopefully they’ll figure that out soon. If not, tickets are probably going to be very reasonably priced, but the waiver you would need to sign would be brutal.