Elon Musk thinks big. He not only runs spacecraft development firm SpaceX and electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors, he is also involved in a number of other technology-related initiatives.
As of this week, futurist Elon Musk’s grand vision of a high-speed hyperloop connecting regional cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco is one step closer to becoming a reality.
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However, it turns out that the company actually building the first test track for the project, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, is not officially affiliated with Musk (that said, the inventor has publicly encouraged anyone to apply his idea).
Of note, the multi-talented Musk first explained the idea of a “hyperloop” in an almost 60-page white paper he published back in 2013. The hyperloop is a new transportation system in which passenger-carrying craft would move through low-pressure tubes at high speeds using induction motors and air compressors.
More on plans for SF- LA California hyperloop
HTT initially announced back in February of this year that it was planning to construct a five-mile hyperloop test track in California. On Wednesday, the Navigant Research blog announced that HTT has finalized a deal with landowners in central California to begin construction near the Interstate 5 freeway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Construction of the California test track is set for 2016 and be complete by the end of 2019. The prototype hyperloop will cost at least $100 million, but Hyperloop Transportation Technologies plans to acquire the necessary funds by going public this year. Experts say the estimated cost of the full Hyperloop, which would have to run 400 miles across California to connect the two cities, would very likely exceed $8 billion.
However, as the Navigant blog notes, $8 billion is still much less than the estinated costs of California’s high-speed rail, which would total close to $67.6 billion, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
HTT has announced that it plans to build the track in California’s Quay Valley along interstate highway I5, and passengers in the pods on the loop are expected to reach speeds of 200-250 MPH even on the short five mile test loop. Elon Musk’s hyperloop in the 2013 white paper proposed speeds of up to 700 miles per hour, but this would of course be over a much longer 400 mile route.
Statement from HTT CEO
“This is big step,” noted Dirk Ahlborn, the CEO of the JumpStartFund that founded Hyperloop Transportation Technologies last year, in a recent interview. “It’s time to take the Hyperloop from concept and design and build the first one.”
“It’s not a test track,” Ahlborn explained in describing the Hyperloop project. “Speed is not really what we are optimizing here…or want to test here.”
“We’ve been contacting potential suppliers and we think this first commercial application of the Hyperloop will be successful when it is built,” he went on to say.
Elon Musk hyperloop test track planned for Texas
In fact, Musk has announced plans for his own hyperloop test track in Texas, according to a tweet he made back in January:
“Will be building a Hyperloop test track for companies and student teams to test out their pods. Most likely in Texas.”