WIRED’s exclusive four-month investigation into Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the two companies aiming to reinvent travel
In 2013, irked by the $68 billion (£51 billion) cost of California’s high-speed rail project, Elon Musk proposed an alternative. He called it the Hyperloop: levitating pods that would travel in near-vacuum tubes at near the speed of sound. By his calculations, a hyperloop from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take just 36 minutes and cost under $6 billion – a tenth of the cost. “Short of figuring out real teleportation, which would be awesome,” Musk declared, the hyperloop is “the only option for super-fast travel.”
Musk being Musk, the internet went crazy. Proponents argued hyperloop routes could transform economics in a way not seen since the invention of air travel, turning far-flung cities into stops on a continental tube map. Others thought the idea a sci-fi fantasy. Either way, Musk declared himself too busy running SpaceX and Tesla to build it, and instead invited anyone ambitious enough to try.
Today two startups, Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, are racing to be the first. Between them, they employ hundreds of engineers and have raised millions in venture capital. They have met with world leaders, signed deals with sovereign nations and partnered with global engineering firms. Earlier this year, WIRED set about to document their progress.
It did not go as we expected.
On a cloudless morning in May, a convoy of coaches drove out to a test site belonging to the transportation startup Hyperloop One. A sweeping, fenced-off cluster of low container buildings, the facility lies less than an hour north from Las Vegas into the Nevada desert. Fighter jets soar on thermals overhead. Sections of steel tubing, painted white, lay in the dirt. Next door, a solar farm dazzles in the sunshine….Via wired.co.uk