TRANSIT: Hyperloop launches first testing site in Nevada

April 12, 2017

The technology that enables the movement of freight and passengers through tubes between distant cities in minutes will undergo a full-system test by the end of this year

Hyperloop One recently announced that it has built its first U.S. testing site, a 1,640-ft long full-scale track in the deserts of Nevada, putting the company one step ahead of its competitors in the race to build Elon Musk’s futuristic transportation system.

Engineers have already begun testing some components, including the propulsion system and the vacuum. The company plans to have a full-system test by the end of this year. It is also collaborating with regulators in Dubai to create a framework for testing the system’s safety and feasibility. And if all goes as planned, cities across the U.S. could become metro stops just minutes apart from one another.

Eleven U.S. teams from Hyperloop One’s Global Challenge recently presented their ideas for the futuristic ride. Together they represent 35 metro areas that could someday be connected by the Hyperloop.

Team Nevada proposed a 454-mile route running from Reno to Las Vegas, carrying freight from one of the country’s largest industrial centers to the state’s most popular city. The state’s freight flow is expected to grow from 132 million tons in 2015 to 191 million tons by 2045, which would be worth $305 billion. On the Hyperloop, that could be placed on pods big enough to fit a shipping container and whizzed to its destination in a matter of minutes.

Meanwhile, Texas hopes to connect five of its major cities for commuters’ sake, aiming to ease traffic congestion on the highways and zip commuters from, say, Austin to Dallas in just 20 minutes.

Team Florida proposed a route that would boost local tourism between Orlando and Miami, while the Midwest team aims to connect Chicago, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.