Given Australians have been talking for decades about a high-speed train link connecting Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne that has never eventuated, the concept of Hyperloop may seem out of this world.
But in fact, it’s close to becoming reality. Hyperloop is a conceptual high-speed transportation system announced to the world by entrepreneur Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX three years ago. It incorporates reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurised, automated capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors, turning what would ordinarily be a ten hour drive into a half an hour trip. It’s about as close as humans can possibly get to teleportation right now.
With Musk open-sourcing the project, the task of bringing Hyperloop to life has since been taken on by other scientists, entrepreneurs, and visionaries.
One group on the verge of turning science fiction into reality is Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a California company which is working to build tubes and capsules that will be able to reach speeds of up to 760 miles per hour empty – close to the speed of sound – with a capsule carrying a passenger reaching up to 160 miles per hour.
After conducting a feasibility study and the filing of a conditional permit, the company last year announced that it would be building a 5 mile (eight kilometre) test track in Quay Valley, California. Scheduled to start in November, the $150 million project was delayed but is now ready to go, with Bibop Gresta, cofounder and COO at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, announcing last week that the development will not be a test track but in fact a system open to the public.
However, it will be some time yet before Hyperloop becomes a fact of life, as ordinary to us as catching a suburban train. The Quay Valley track itself will take around three years to complete, while the question of where a full-scale route between cities will be built once tests are completed is another issue – while Musk originally announced the idea in relation to a high-speed link between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the first route is not likely to be built in the United States. In fact, Australia is on the cards as a potential Hyperloop site.
Bibop Gresta, cofounder and COO at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, told Startup Daily that a link between Sydney and Melbourne is being considered as an option, although he admitted it was “not the most probable one.”
Gresta said the company is having very advanced discussions with two countries in Asia, given that it needs a place with a high density population and more lenient regulations than those found in either the US or Australia. However, he said Hyperloop is currently in early talks with the Australian government regarding regulations.
As well as the huge reduction in travel time that the launch of its systems will facilitate, one of the most interesting aspects of Hyperloop’s work is its focus on sustainability, with its Hyperloop system using renewable energies like solar, wind, kinetic energy, and geothermal energy to run. The positive impact that Hyperloop systems can have on the world is enormous.
Gresta will be coming to Australia to talk at the annual Pause Fest Conference next month. He will be sharing insights about the company, the future of transport, and how Australia can one day leverage Hyperloop technology to connect its cities.
Pause Fest 2016 will take place at Federation Square on the 8th – 14th of February 2016. Tickets can be purchased here.
But hurry, time is running out!
Featured Image: Capsule | Source: Provided