Last May, Hyperloop One publicly tested an electric motor on skid in the Nevada desert to start proving its concept of a train within a vacuum sealed tube could efficiently speed passengers and cargo at 700 mph. By July, all that goodwill seemed sucked out of the room when CTO and co-founder Brogan BamBrogan left during a flurry of accusations and executive level malfeasance that Hyperloop wished wasn’t so public.
The dust, the bluster, and the drama seems to have settled, as yesterday the company announced a successful test in a vacuum environment, its 1,640-foot-long DevLoop, using its magnetic levitation tech was completed two months ago. The skid went only one-tenth, or 70 mph, of the target speed, but it proves the tech works and the company is back on track.
“It’s our Kitty Hawk moment,” co-founder Shervin Pishevar said on CBS News. Last May, after the 2-second skid test, co-founder Rob Lloyd made allusions to the moon landing, proving Hyperloop is at the very least successful at hyperbole.
But the team has every right to be excited, as they have taken a concept Elon Musk open sourced to whoever wants to give it a try and are projecting actual systems in place by 2021.
This test, in which the levitating skid ran for 5.3 seconds at 2 g, was vital as it has reignited excitement in the tube transport tech that could someday lead to superfast trains whizzing people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes. Speaking as someone who last night waited twice that long just taxiing on runways for the same trip, I can say it’s a technology worth waiting a little longer for.
And the benefits aren’t only for snarky, impatient business travelers. As Hyperloop One and other startups developing the technology envision, this could be the magic bullet (train) to reduce carbon emissions.
“It’ll be the safest, cleanest, fastest form of transportation in the world,” Pishevar says.
The next milestone will be reaching 250 mph, still only a third of the final goal. Countries across Europe and the Middle East have expressed serious interest in their own systems. A global challenge presented by Hyperloop One also yielded several plans to link America in a totally tubular Manifest destiny spanning 2,800 miles.
|Hyperloop One's Proposed Middle East Route|
“We are on the brink of the first great breakthrough in transportation technology of the 21st century, eliminating the barriers of time and distance and unlocking vast economic opportunities,” Pishevar says. “Hyperloop One is the American Dream, and it’s fast becoming an American reality,”
And what’s an American story without a little intrigue and drama? But if you’re a serial traveler or someone who wants their cargo delivered at the speed of sound, you can only hope that drama is truly left behind and the company can focus on speeding up the future.