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Hyperloop Explained: How the vision of Tesla CEO Elon Musk for a new mode of transport is becoming reality
Posted on March 13, 2016 by Matt Pressman
As Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] CEO Elon Musk challenges the gas-powered automotive status quo with his vision for vastly superior electric vehicles, it turns out he has another game-changing concept for a new mode of transport. According to the Guardian*, "Hyperloop is a brain child of Elon Musk, who hoped that the 700 miles per hour train would simplify the modern commute. According to Musk, Hyperloop would enable people to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in about 30 minutes. Currently, that trip takes six hours by car and one hour by plane. Since Musk is already preoccupied with his other projects, such as SpaceX and Tesla, he has made plans for Hyperloop open to the public allowing other entrepreneurs to make it a reality."
Source: The Guardian
But what exactly is the Hyperloop, and, how did the idea come about? And, what's the latest progress? This week, a helpful video was published explaining (in layman's terms) what the Hyperloop is...
And just this week, the Guardian* reported that, "Dirk Ahlborn, chief executive officer of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), announced on Thursday that HTT has reached an agreement with the Slovakian government to explore building a local Hyperloop system. A transport system capable of speeds of up to 760mph (1,223kph)... the next steps will include identifying a route that could connect Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, with Vienna and Budapest... Ahlborn expects Slovakia’s Hyperloop to cost between $200m to $300m and be completed by 2020."
Source: The Guardian*
“Hyperloop in Europe would cut distances substantially and network cities in unprecedented ways. A transportation system of this kind would redefine the concept of commuting and boost cross-border cooperation in Europe,” said Vazil Hudak, Slovakia’s minister of economy. “The expansion of Hyperloop will lead to an increased demand for the creation of new innovation hubs, in Slovakia and all over Europe.”
Wait... I thought the Hyperloop was going to launch in the US? Well, it is: "In California, HTT’s rival Hyperloop Technologies is currently in the process of building a three-mile test track, which they hope to complete by the end of the year. Rob Lloyd, chief executive officer of Hyperloop Technologies, told CNN that their first commercial train could be ready as soon as 2021 or even 2020."
And, in a an article published this week, Forbes* reported that there's more exciting activity surrounding Hyperloop as well. They profiled a fascinating group called rLoop. As noted in video above, Elon Musk's SpaceX had actually invited 125 teams to present ideas at Texas A&M University this past January for the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. Yet, Elon Musk (himself) will not receive the credit if the Hyperloop indeed becomes a reality. Instead, that honor may be bestowed upon on a small group of teams now working feverishly to construct a prototype that will be tested this summer at SpaceX headquarters in California. Well, it turns out that rLoop is the only non student team to reach the final stage of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition (see video below).
Source: rLoop Team
Formed in June of 2015 on the social media site Reddit, rLoop is a non-profit, open source, online think tank composed of more than 140 members from 14 different countries working to help bring Musk’s vision into reality. Among that membership are engineers from NASA, CERN, Tesla, GE, Honeywell, and dozens of other top technology companies, all of whom are volunteering their time to help create what will be the greatest leap forward in ground based transportation since the invention of the steam engine.
While only time will tell whether rLoop has what it takes to win the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, what remains certain is that the organization will serve as testament to the amazing things that can be achieved when a group of total strangers from different countries and cultures come together with a vision to change the world for the better.
So while Elon Musk is transforming the aerospace industry as CEO of SpaceX, and, the automotive industry as CEO of Tesla Motors, we're looking forward to seeing how Musk's vision for this new mode of transport, the Hyperloop, becomes a reality. And, as evidenced by the opposing companies and competing groups working furiously to make the Hyperloop happen, it's clear that the Hyperloop might be here sooner than we may have anticipated. Buckle up, it's going to be a fun ride.