Hyperloop One, one of many competing companies building off a white paper issued by Elon Musk a few years, showed the world the technology’s possibilities this week, if only for a few seconds.
Recently renamed Hyperloop One’s first test
Hyperloop Technologies recently changed its name from Hyperloop Technologies, likely to stave off confusion from another startup working on its own hyperloop in the Quay Valley of California called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. Perhaps, the name change was meant to reflect that Hyperloop One knew it was going to be the first company to publicly demonstrate the technology that its been working on for the last few years.
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The Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One has been hard at work constructing a test track in the Nevada desert since last year, but in the mean time wished to show the public and investors that it was working on something that appears quite feasible and could become the first revolutionary new mode of transportation in over a century’s time.
Having recently secured $80 million in series B funding, which included a significant investment from the French national rail company SNCF; investors, employees, and members of the press were treated to an open-air test of a propulsion system the company, and others, believe could revolutionize transportation as we know it with its supersonic capabilities.
While the hyperloop was originally envisioned by Elon Musk, the tech billionaire and real-life Tony Stark (Iron Man) simply gave his idea to the public and asked others to run with his vision. His vision when presented suggested the possibility of transporting cargo and humans through sealed tubes near, and beyond the speed of sound. When Musk presented his white paper, he specifically mentioned taking people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than 30 minutes.
Possibilities on display
While that remains a ways away, Hyperloop One was happy to show the possibilities of the technology with an open air sled on a track yesterday in Nevada where a 1500-pound aluminum sled reached 116 mph in just over a second, accelerated to nearly 300 mph before crashing through a sand berm to slow itself down.
While the test only lasted about two seconds, the company believes it had what could be considered a “Kitty Hawk” moment.
“This is about validating the hardware and software,” said Hyperloop One co-founder and chief technology officer Brogan BamBrogan. “We’re aiming to hit 400 mph in two seconds.
“And by the end of the year hopefully we’ll have a full test, with the sled in a tube accelerating with our custom propulsion.”
That custom propulsion, of course, includes magnetic levitation that was employed yesterday and will be used in the future.
Desert focus, Los Angeles engineering
While all eyes were turned to the desert yesterday, the company is based in Los Angeles, CA and it’s here where Hyperloop One is testing various methods of magnetic levitation that will work best with the company’s goals to have something in place by the end of the decade. And they are lofty goals. While construction on a three-mile track (tube) continues in the Nevada desert it’s in Los Angeles that the company’s future will be determined and will or will not come to pass.
“We think we can move cargo by 2019 and passengers by 2021, if we can replicate the kind of support we’ve gotten here from the county and city of North Las Vegas,” said CEO Rob Lloyd.
The company certainly has lofty ambitions but they believe they are already there with the technology. This is a company that has about 150 engineers that once called SpaceX, Boeing, and Lufthansa working for them. As Lloyd points out, the company hires people who have built things.
“Hyperloop is like, done,” says BamBrogan. “We could absolutely build the Hyperloop today and deploy it. It would just be very expensive.”
Strategic partnerships also announced by Hyperloop One
In addition to the test the company announced a number of strategic partnerships including British engineering consultancy group Arup and Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting.
Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, said in a statement: “We will work alongside these world-class partners to redefine the future of transportation, providing a more immediate, safe, efficient and sustainable high-speed backbone for the movement of people and things.”
“Hyperloop has the potential to solve many of today’s most complex long-distance transport issues,” said Gregory Hodkinson, Arup Group chairman, also in a statement. “If railways helped enable the first industrial revolution, Hyperloop has the potential to do the same for the information economy, overcoming distances and creating connections between people, places, ideas and opportunities.”