Work on the first Hyperloop test track is now underway in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Video from CNN Money shows dozens of giant tubes laying out at a desert test track owned by Hyperloop Technologies at the Apex Industrial Park.

If all goes as planned, the track will see the first test of Elon Musk’s super-fast transportation system. The Hyperloop is actually a set of giant tubes from which much of the air is removed. This allows pods to move through the system at speeds that could reach up to 700 miles an hour by greatly reducing friction and air resistance.

That would allow a person to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in around half an hour; the journey currently takes five and a half hours by car. A trip between Los Angeles and New York, a distance of 2,789.9 miles, would take around four hours. It currently takes a driver around 41 hours to make the trip on three different interstate highways, provided he does not stop to sleep or eat.


Hyperloop Technologies CEO Rob Lloyd hopes that the Apex Industrial Park will be the scene of the technology’s Kitty Hawk moment. Kitty Hawk refers to the town on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the Wright Brothers first tested their airplane. Lloyd has so much confidence in Hyperloop that he promised a reporter a ticket on the first train, which he believes will run in 2020 or 2021.

Hyperloop Technologies is the company financed by Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar. Pishevar has raised tens of millions in venture capital and recruited a large team of engineers to set up a facility in an old warehouse near downtown Los Angeles. They’re led by Lloyd, who is a former president of Cisco Systems. Lloyd knows a thing or two about disruptive technology; at Cisco, he helped create the infrastructure for the Internet.

Beyond High-Speed Rail

If it is successful, Hyperloop could give America the world’s most advanced ground transportation system. Strangely enough, it could also make some Republican politicians who have successfully blocked the adoption of high-speed rail in the United States look rather smart.


Many observers have noted that the U.S. lacks a modern high-speed rail system of the kind found in China, Europe, and Japan. That’s largely because of intense opposition from some libertarians and elements of the Republican Party that view passenger rail as a socialist conspiracy against individual freedom. These people and their allies in Congress have successfully blocked both high-speed rail construction and modern transit in America’s cities by denying federal funding.

Interestingly enough, these modern-day Luddites might have done America a favor by leaving the ground clear for Hyperloop construction. If Hyperloop works—and it is a big if; the technology has not been tested on a large scale yet, although observers like Lloyd think it is scientifically possibly—it will be much easier to adopt in a country without a competing rail system.

What Is Musk’s Role?

Oddly enough, it was the construction of a controversial and expensive high-speed rail system in California that prompted Mr. Musk to propose the Hyperloop in the first place. Elon was upset with that plan because it was too expensive and slow for his taste. Musk is not involved with Hyperloop Technologies, but Brogan BamBrogan, who formerly worked for the billionaire’s SpaceX rocket company, is the company’s cofounder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Musk’s role in the development of Hyperloop is rather ambiguous. He claims not to be involved, but he is building his own Hyperloop test track at SpaceX’s factory in Hawthorne California and sponsoring a Hyperloop vehicle design contest. Wall Street Journal writer Alexander Chee pointed out that these efforts could enable SpaceX to develop a “smart tube” that would put it at the forefront of Hyperloop development.



According to Chee, Musk hopes to have his own “Kitty Hawk moment” when SpaceX tests Hyperloop pods at its track this summer. Musk’s contest also apparently has the backing of the Obama Administration; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx was scheduled to speak at a Hyperloop design contest at Texas A&M University on January 13, 2015.

This puts both Musk and Hyperloop Technologies far ahead of the third company trying to develop the technology, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. The crowdsourced organization is trying to build its own track at a Central California real estate development called Quay Valley.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, or HTT, is reportedly working with two publicly traded companies: OC Oerlikon (OTC: OERLY), a Swiss firm that specializes in the manufacture of industrial vacuum pumps, and Aecom (NYSE: ACM), a large U.S. public engineering corporation that is working on the Crossrail project in London. Unfortunately, it is not clear how much funding HTT has or if it has the capability to build a working demonstration project.

Despite that, it looks as if Elon Musk’s pipe dream of super-fast ground transportation could soon become a reality. One has to wonder how that system, which will effectively form a sort of pipeline for freight and passengers, will change the world. JenningsInnovationBeyond High-Speed Rail,Elon Musk,HTT,Hyperloop,Hyperloop Investment,Hyperloop Tech,Hyperloop Technologies,Musk's Tube,Rob Lloyd,Shervin Pishevar,SpaceXWork on the first Hyperloop test track is now underway in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Video from CNN Money shows dozens of giant tubes laying out at a desert test track owned by Hyperloop Technologies at the Apex Industrial Park. If all goes as planned, the track will see the...From A Geek to a Geek