Hyperloop One announced that its test track in the desert north of Las Vegas, dubbed the "DevLoop", is now operational and it plans to soon hold human trials there for its sci-fi-like transit system: Think huge tubes that stretch over the landscape and use electric propulsion to literally blast people-filled pods over the earth. Hyperloop One will need to demonstrate that the technology is sufficiently safe.
Much of the buzz around potential Hyperloop systems of late has centered on how they might first make tracks in countries outside the United States, but for its latest announcement, startup Hyperloop One is looking much closer to home. The 11 short-listed locations were all proposed to Hyperloop One by teams set up independently from the company, as part of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge in 2016.
Hyperloop One demo track.
Hyperloop One isn't the only company working on Musk's vision of a supersonic transport system, although it is farther ahead in development than any of its competitors. The company's chief technology officer BamBrogan abruptly quit and sued Hyperloop One last July, alleging that he was harassed by officials when he brought some internal concerns to light. Instead, that route would be left to the proposed high-speed rail line between the cities, which has faced an uphill regulatory battle as rural communities have fought back against the line going through their towns.
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"The feeling I would have in riding a hyperloop would be no less than the feeling of accelerating on an aircraft", he said.
Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who served under President Barack Obama, said that aside from the major obstacle of actually building something that the company can convince people is safe, another major barrier is that there is no existing way to fit something like this into America's existing oversight structures. "The idea is that you could put freight on the network, you could have passengers on the network, and cars on the network".
Lloyd said if regulators are adversarial, the project won't work, so Hyperloop One will look for cooperative regulators. Hyperloop One estimates it system could tackle that route in 7.5 minutes. As sister site Dallas Innovates reports, the Dallas-based Hyperloop Texas team is one of 35 semifinalists nationwide that's lobbying to be the test site for technology that could zip passengers from Dallas to Houston in a half hour.
"We believe cargo will come before people", Hughes said.
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