A little over a year ago, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) was formed to follow through on the ideas presented by Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier in 2013 for a cheap, fast, environmentally friendly form of public transportation called the hyperloop. With Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCity and who knows what else on his mind, Musk didn’t actually want to be the one behind building the hyperloop, but he was convinced that there had to be a better solution for fast transit than the typical proposals for more rails or airports. A year later, HTT is confident that they are on the right track and that they can be done in the next ten years.
“I have almost no doubt that once we are finished, once we know how we are going to build and it makes economical sense, that we will get the funds,” says CEO Dirk Ahlborn, reports Alex Davies for Wired. Ahlborn believes a working Hyperloop “can be built within the decade… that’s for sure.”
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies engineers will get 10% of future revenues
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is a crowdstorming company, something along the lines of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. The 100+ engineers currently working on the project have other jobs, but depending on the level of their contribution they will get a stake in the future company (as a group they are entitled to 10% of future revenues). It’s impressive how much of Musk’s original design has remained intact, though they have had to make a few alterations along the way, like dropping the falcon doors because they would have been too heavy to swing upward easily in favor of a double capsule system: passengers get into the smaller capsule that fits into the sturdier outer capsule that actually handles travel. This also has the advantage of being modular so that switching between freight, passenger, or first class travel is easier.
Plenty of questions remain
There are still a lot of questions left to be answered, from the mundane (how should passenger seats be arranged in the interior capsule) to the critical (will they ultimately go with maglevs or air cushions to levitate the capsule). But HTT is mindful that keeping costs under control is essential to the project’s eventual success.
They figure that they will be able to build line for $20 million – $45 million per mile, compared to $200 million per mile for conventional public transit options between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But it’s not just a matter of keeping ticket prices reasonable. Eventually, HTT will have to convince investors to pony up a few billion for construction, and the sooner they can expect to start getting returns the easier it will be to raise money.