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Is Musk's hyperloop dream about to come true?

Zulfikar AbbanyMay 10, 2016

Hyperloop Technologies is hosting a two-day "future of transportation" event, promising the first true visions of near-supersonic travel. It's one of Elon Musk's many dreams, after PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX.

Hyperloop transport system Project from SpaceX & Elon Musk
Image: picture-alliance/SpaceX via AP/P. Larson

Some say it all started with a futuristic paper Elon Musk, the technology entrepreneur, published in 2013. In it, Musk dared innovators to realize his dream of a transportation system that could carry passengers at near supersonic speeds. In pressurized tubes.

Three years later and one of the companies that have been working on the idea, Hyperloop Technologies, is sending out very strong signals it's ready to demonstrate it's on track.

The company is hosting a two-day "future of transportation" event at a test site outside Las Vegas.

And it's been ramping up interest with a series of tweets, with the unmistakable slogan The future is happening.

It will be live-tweeting from midnight on May 11, UTC, (5 p.m. PDT, May 10) from @HyperloopTech.

It's believed the event will include a propulsion open air test.

Hyperloop heavyweights

Hyperloop Technologies top brass is stacked with Silicon heavyweights, including its CEO Rob Lloyd, who spent 20 years at the head of Cisco, a technology firm of 30 years standing.

In 2015, Lloyd said Hyperloop Technologies was working towards a big announcement this year, or a "Kitty Hawk" moment, as he put it.

"Our 'Kitty Hawk' moment refers to our first full system, full scale, full speed test," said Lloyd at the time.

"This will be over two miles of tube with a controlled environment," said Lloyd. "Inside that tube we will levitate a pod and accelerate it to over 700 miles [1,125 kilometers] per hour."

The idea is to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes.

Hyperloop Technologies says it uses its own, custom-made equipment, including the "Blade Runner," "The Hyperloop Levitation Rig" and "The Big Tube," a carbon steel vessel used to validate tube design among other things. This will be vital to achieve Musk's goal of super-fast transport in low-pressure tubes.

According to the company, a hyperloop transportation system will slash carbon emissions by coupling "high energy efficiency with electric propulsion." It will enable "on-demand transport."

Not only that - Hyperloop Tech says its pods are "designed to depart as often as every 10 seconds." Whether that will obliterate delays on the daily commute is anyone's guess.

There are also a number of other teams around the world competing in the Hyperloop pod competition. The competition is sponsored by Musk's SpaceX company, which is itself in a fierce battle with Blue Origin for space travel.