It might feel like a callback to the retro future we were always promised, but the concept of a Hyperloop mass transit system is still a viable (albeit expensive) option — and now a legit test track is set to open up in 2016.
After working on the project in relative secrecy, the company took advantage of the buzz surrounding a new Forbes report to announce more detailed plans about its Hyperloop initiative. Hyperloop Technologies has hired Rob Lloyd, former president of Cisco, as its new CEO and aims to wrap up a new round of funding worth around $80 million soon. That should hopefully help kick-start things in a major way.
The first big project will be the construction of a two-mile test track at the company’s L.A. campus. Sadly, the test track will be moving freight instead of people, so we still have a while to wait until we can set off across the continent at 800+ mph. The company hopes to complete the test track in 2016, though it could slide into early 2017.
“The Hyperloop vision is compelling and disruptive. Developing the most transformative new mode of transportation that the world has seen in decades will have a profound impact on people, on economies and on how we all live in the future. It doesn’t get any better than that,” Lloyd said in a prepared statement.
If you’re unfamiliar with the basics, Hyperloop tech works by incorporating reduced-pressure tubes with pressurized capsules (for people, freight, etc.) that ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors. Basically, there’s minimal resistance and it goes really, really fast.
Though this is all inspiring and great to hear, as The Verge notes, there are still a few problems. Namely, no one has figured out if Hyperloop tech is actually safe while moving at hundreds of miles per hour, or if it’ll prove cost-effective (though a test track will go a long way toward answering some of those questions). There’s also the question of gaining property rights, etc. to build massive stretches of track that would essentially function as a modern-day railroad.
What do you think? Is the Hyperloop the future of transportation?