Hyperloop: Is Elon Musk's super-fast travel dream about to become a reality?
Hyperloop - billionaire Elon Musk's super-fast, mass transportation system - has just taken a major step from being a futuristic engineering concept towards reality. Not only is it performing a first ever live public test of its propulsion system prototype, the company has rebranded Hyperloop Technologies as Hyperloop One to avoid being confused for similarly named Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.
In an announcement on Tuesday, Hyperloop One revealed it had raised $80 million (Â£55m) in funding and formed important partnerships with established engineering, infrastructure transportation companies.
The idea for super-fast Hyperloop transport system has long been a dream of billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Space X and Tesla Motors.
Although Musk came up with the concept for Hyperloop, he didn’t want to build it himself and open-sourced the technology to allow other firms to develop the idea.
In his paper written in 2013, Musk described the system as “a cross between Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table”.
Should the concept become a reality, the above-ground transport network – consisting of hundreds of miles of tubes – would allow people to travel at supersonic speed.
Hyperloop is basically a long tube that has had the air removed to create a vacuum.
The theory is that the tube transportation system will work using magnetic levitation (Maglev) technology that has been developed by Lawrence Livermore National Labs.
Passive magnetic levitation will create low pressure within the tubes and allow the train to float above the track while travelling through vacuum at a speed close to 760mph.
Musk called for a route between San Francisco and Los Angeles in his original paper, which he said would take less than 30 minutes but the firms involved are scouting alternatives for the first route.
Meanwhile, several other companies are building their own versions of Hyperloop – with rival Hyperloop Tech currently in the process of trialling its own version.
Hyperloop One is expected to test its prototype linear induction engine at a desert in Las Vegas.