For fans of Elon Musk’s high-speed hyperloop concept, this is a big week. One of the two companies working to develop an ultra high-speed rail in the Nevada desert just performed a full-scale test to show off its progress for the first time. Hyperloop One demonstrated a proof of concept for a new form of transportation that will carry people and cargo at a blistering 300+ miles per hour. The “propulsion open-air test” (POAT) sled sped up to 116 mph in mere seconds, putting the company’s electromagnetic propulsion system through the paces.
Hyperloop One began operations just over two years ago as Hyperloop Technologies, and the company’s name change became effective yesterday in commemoration of the test. The new name should help differentiate this team from its competitor, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), which already broken ground on a $100-million test track in California. Hyperloop One has worked quickly to raise capital and develop unique propulsion technology with high speed transportation in mind. The test used electromagnets, but the company has been tight-lipped with other details about the technology it is using.
Not to be outdone, HTT recently announced an exclusive deal to license passive magnetic levitation, which employs a magnet and coil system developed in the 1990s. “Utilizing a passive levitation system will eliminate the need for power stations along the Hyperloop track, which makes this system the most suitable for the application and will keep construction costs low,” Bibop Gresta, COO of HTT, said a press release.
Regardless of the outcome of this week’s test, both companies have a lot of work ahead before a real working hyperloop rail system will be fulfill Musk’s dream of carrying passengers and cargo at break-neck speeds. Hyperloop One says it has raised $80 million in investments to further its innovations, but that’s a drop in the bucket when it comes to the full cost of building a working hyperloop rail, such as the proposed connector between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which Musk himself has estimated could cost as much as $7.5 billion to build. For now, developers focus on creating the technology and working to build small test tracks. It just remains to be seen which company will build it first.