Hyperloop to Enter Its Biggest Testing Phase Yet

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

We’ve been keeping a close eye on one of Elon Musk’s more down-to-earth concepts, the Hyperloop. Our excitement levels reached new heights when we learned that the next-gen transportation system was about to enter its first real-life testing phase in Apex Industrial Park in the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada next year.

This week, Hyperloop Technologies confirmed that the company has entered into an agreement to locate its Propulsion Open Air Test (POAT) on a 50 acre site in the scorching hot location.

Originally envisioned by Elon Musk and actively being developed by not one, but two competing research companies, Hyperloop is a next-generation transportation system based on a technology similar to the old-school pneumatic tubes used to move cash bundles at banks. The pressurised, low-friction tube concept hopes to carry people and / or cargo between distant points at speeds of almost 1,000 Km/h. Initial test runs slated to begin in late 2016 – early 2017 will probe smaller speeds, of about 540 Km/h, and will gradually move towards the higher goal as the system’s efficiency and feasibility get increasingly higher scores.

The first Propulsion Open Air Test will occur on a track of 1 kilometer long (or about 2/3 of a mile), with plans to extend the track to 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) for a full-scale, full speed prototype, if all goes well during the first phase. Hyperloop Technologies, which closed a seed investment round led by SherpaVentures, has its sights set on 2020 to deliver the first commercially viable, fully operational Hyperloop system.

Competition aside (see Hyperloop Transportation Technologies) the feasibility of the idea remains unproven, both technologically and economically, and is a subject of significant debate. However, considering the fact that two separate ventures are pouring millions into making the Elon Musk’s “fifth mode of transport” a reality, its chances of coming to fruition are equally high. Embedded below is an artist’s recreation of the test run planned for next year at the Propulsion Open Air Test in Apex Industrial Park in the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada. Fingers crossed everyone!

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