When Elon Musk presented a white paper on his dream of a Hyperloop in 2012, many scoffed at the proposal. However, while Musk backed away others went forward and with test tracks set to break ground this year some see 2018 as the year that passengers will hear “All Aboard.”


Musk takes a step back, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) and others moving forward

Elon Musk is far too busy stealing people’s cars and attempting to vertically land a rocket booster for reuse to work on his Hyperloop but others have certainly stepped into the breach. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) might be the front-runners but others are in the mix. HTT has already followed permits to build its Hyperloop track around the Quay Valley in California. Quay Valley, about half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is a planned community of roughly 75,000 residents that is hoping to be not only solar-powered but the first to have a passenger-ready hyperloop.

“After over two and a half years of research and development our team has reached another important milestone. This will be the world’s first passenger-ready Hyperloop system,” said Dirk Ahlborn, the company’s CEO, in a statement. “Everyone traveling on California’s I-5 in 2016 will be able to see our activities from the freeway.”

So what’s next for HTT in order get us traveling at 760mph?

Per building permit requirements, HTT is presently testing the soil around the Quay Valley to determine where the supporting pylons and station will be best placed. After soil sampling has made this determination the next step will be for HTT to map the terrain both traditionally and with drones to map the corridor and calculate the horizontal and vertical alignments for the Hyperloop.

In a perfect world according to HTT, the track in Quay Valley will be completed in 2017 with, barring unforeseen delays or regulatory hurdles, the Hyperloop ready for passengers in 2018.

“There are several main issues with today’s transportation systems,” HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn tells Newsweek. “It’s a dinosaur industry. There is no railway that is profitable without government subsidies if you take everything into consideration. Our unique levitated low-pressure energy balance allows us to have very low operational costs and be profitable in a very short time span.”

What about the other L.A-based hyperloop company with the same name?

Well, it’s not quite the same name but Hyperloop Technologies, headed by former Cisco executive Rob Lloyd, has already broken ground on a test track of two miles in the Nevada desert. The company has less lofty goals and expects a commercial track to be ready by 2021. Part of this might have to to do with the less-traditional structuring of the company which has been crowdsourced using talent from NASA, Boeing, Tesla, and SpaceX working alongside its 480-plus volunteers.

All of this is happening at the same time as students and engineers are readying themselves for next week’s Hyperloop pod design competition in Texas, which is not surprisingly, being sponsored by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

That competition will include Arx Pax, the Silicon Valley-based company that makes actual hover-boards that actually hover 20mm off the ground. That company is looking to expand its hoverboard offerings to provide engines or stabilizers for the aforementioned Hyperloop pods.

Next week’s contest will see five companies including Arx Pax showing off their pods as well as thousands of high school and college students’ designs that will compete for a $50,000 prize supplied by SpaceX.

“Our hover engines are being purchased for use, along with our developer kits, for use in SpaceX’s test facility they’re building in Hawthorne, California,” Arx Pax founder and CEO Greg Henderson said recently. “It’s so exciting, because while there are other things that can hover, no other form of magnetic levitation, or any sort of levitation for that matter, comes with its own inherent method of propulsion and control. This is a brand new tool for anyone interested in moving people or objects.”