Super-Fast Hyperloop idea gets first test in Nevada


Wednesday, 11 May, might go down in history as a crucial day for the Hyperloop - the vacuum-tube-based transportation system proposed by Elon Musk in 2013.

Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Technologies has announced that it will hold a public test of its technology in the Nevada desert just out of Las Vegas.

This comes as the company has just raked in US$80 million of venture capital funding, and has renamed itself "Hyperloop One." The long overdue rebranding will finally stave off confusion with the other firm leading the effort to build Musk's propelling system, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, aka HTT.

Corporate business aside, this will be the first time ever that an actual Hyperloop prototype is seen in action.

The idea for such a structure was first floated by SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk in a 2013 paper. In his view, the Hyperloop would be a network of reduced-pressure tubes inside which capsules would travel at a high speed (about 1200 kmph), levitating thanks to powerful magnets.

Despite its pie-in-the-sky connotations and its complexity, the technology has been deemed theoretically feasible.

While Musk himself has not directly tried to bring about the concept, he has certainly inspired others to have a crack at it, including some of his former employees: Hyperloop One's CTO Brogan Bambrogan, who in fact used to work at SpaceX.

Creating the Hyperloop will be "easier than building a spaceship," Bambrogan recently commented.

Still, the effort is really at an early stage. And it is not even clear where and how a functioning Hyperloop would be deployed.

Musk's plan was to build the first system to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, but Hyperloop One seems more interested in Scandinavia — it is currently looking into how to put together a Stockholm-Helsinki route.

Will it happen? The test will hopefully give us an answer. Another more elaborate demonstration scheduled for the end of 2016, could be the clincher — or the nail in the Hyperloop-coffin.

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