Maybe Elon Musk’s idea for an ultra-fast, solar-powered, pod-based mass transit system isn’t so crazy after all. In fact, we might be closer to a working prototype than ever before.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), a crowdsourced team of engineers, researchers and students, has apparently signed a deal to turn 7,500 acres of private land into the world’s first Hyperloop track from scratch.
When complete, the protoype will cover about five miles. Rather than testing for speed, the facility will test practical elements associated with the Hyperloop experience, including boarding procedures, pod design and station layout.
Eventually, passengers will be able to buy a ticket to ride, though they won’t get remotely close to the 800 mile-per-hour speeds that Musk originally envisioned. Getting up to that mark requires about 100 miles of track, Ahlborn told Wired, and “speed is not really what we want to test here.”
The Hyperloop prototype will be built in Quay Valley on a five-mile stretch of land adjacent to Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. According to The Verge, Quay Valley was originally planned as a solar-powered “city of the future,” but development has been delayed for years thanks to a water rights dispute with a nearby farm:
The current plans project 25,000 housing units alongside hotels, restaurants, and a business park, spread across 7,500 acres in California’s central valley. The proposed Hyperloop would be designed as a functioning (albeit limited) mass transit system for the town, charging residents for rides and providing a revenue stream for HTT.
While construction is expected to start next year, major questions about funding remain. A report from CNBC placed construction costs at around $100 million to get things up and running by 2019. The company plans to raise at least that much when it goes public in the third quarter of this year.
HTT may be preparing to break ground, but it’s not the only company in the race. Beyond MVP reported earlier this month that Hyperloop Technologies (no relation to HTT) had raised $8.5 million to become Hyperloop’s first funded company. Musk is reportedly working on a test track of his own in Texas, though his iteration will likely be for companies and student teams to test out their own designs.
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