"Hyperloop" Development Underway: Forbes

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

February 11, 2015

Space-X founder Elon Musk proposed the hyperloop in 2013 (Photo from Musk's Twitter profile)

Space-X founder Elon Musk proposed the hyperloop in 2013 (Photo from Musk's Twitter profile)

The next phase of transportation technology, which could eventually replace the entire shipping industry, is under development, Forbes reported today.

In a 3,500 word feature that will appear in the March 2nd issue, Forbes staff writer Bruce Upbin examines two companies that are racing to design and test a "Hyperloop," an 800 mph vacuum tube transport system concept proposed in a 2013 white paper by Tesla and Space-X founder Elon Musk.

"It’s hard to overstate how early this all is," writes Upbin. "Yet it’s equally hard to overstate how dramatically the hyperloop could change the world. The first four modes of modern transportation–boats, trains, motor vehicles and airplanes–brought progress and prosperity. They also brought pollution, congestion, delay and death. The hyperloop, which Musk dubs 'the fifth mode,' would be as fast as a plane, cheaper than a train and continuously available in any weather while emitting no carbon from the tailpipe."

Hyperloop Technologies, one of the companies working on developing the technology, includes several Silicon Valley superstars, as well as Jim Messina, who oversaw President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.  The group recently met with Senator Harry Reid. Competing against them is Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), a group of 200 engineers and designers who are working on the project without pay in exchange for future equity. Musk himself isn't officially affiliated with either group (although Hyperloop Technologies has a roster filled with Space-X employees), but he did announce plans to fund the construction of a hyperloop test track in Texas for any group wanting to test a design, although no date has been set for a groundbreaking.

Although the stated goal of both companies is to provide human transportation that completely redesigns intercity travel, the difficulty of navigating local governments and mitigating the "barf factor" of traveling at close to 800 mph make the initial testing mostly concerned with moving goods. Proponents of the technology believe it will eventually be used for shipping across both land and sea.

Upbin reports that a cost analysis team has estimated that a two-way passenger tube will run $45.3 million per mile, although an HTT employee said he believes innovations could half that cost.

Shervin Pishevar, a venture capitalist and leader of the Hyperloop Technologies team, says that he will fund half the $80 million the company needs for its preliminary investment.

“We’re looking at the end of one civilization and the beginning of another, and this transportation infrastructure we’re building is the beginning of that new lattice,” Pishevar told Forbes.“There’s no turning back.”

You can read more at Forbes.com.

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