When Elon Musk unveiled and open-sourced his design for the Hyperloop, his futuristic solar-powered supersonic pod-train, in the summer of 2013, it seemed like something straight out of a science-fiction book, and many thought that's where the idea would stay. But since then, groups of dedicated forward-thinking individuals have been trying to actually make it happen. It's not too surprising that Musk's space company, SpaceX, has said that it would sponsor a test-track where teams could compete on the best pod designs.
Another group, unaffiliated with Musk, formed a company called Hyperloop Technologies using crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to get going. They've apparently been hard at work, and are now ready to take things to the next level. They have announced today that early in 2016, they will start work on an Open Air Test site at the Apex Industrial Park in the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada.
“This decision represents another major milestone in our journey to bring Hyperloop to commercial reality,” said Rob Lloyd, CEO, Hyperloop Technologies, Inc.
The test track should be able to accelerate a pod from zero to 540 KPH (335.5 MPH) in 2 seconds on a track about 1 kilometer long (0.62 mile). They're certainly not taking this slow!
This is just one more step toward what the company calls its "Kitty Hawk" moment (in homage to the Wright brother's first heavier-than-air flight):
Our "Kitty Hawk" moment refers to our first full system, full scale, full speed test. This will be over 2 miles of tube with a controlled environment and inside that tube we will levitate a pod and accelerate it to over 700mph. We aim to achieve this in Q4 2016.
The timeline seems ambitious, but if they can really achieve this by the end of 2016, major kudos to them! We wish them the best of luck. The world could use a new high-speed, solar-powered form of transportation.
Here's an artist's concept of what Hyperloop Tech imagines the finished product might look like: