Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has announced their first commercially usable track, probably in Asia or the Middle East.
Hyperloops are a much talked about piece of transportation technology that has the potential to absolutely revolutionize intercity travel. A hyperloop is a very long tube with very little or no air, such that a pod can move through it at extremely high speeds due to the lack of friction.
Hyperloops have been considered as a possibility for construction for the last five years, an idea popularized by none other than California's own technological shining star, Elon Musk.
Hyperloop pod run by team WARR pic.twitter.com/ntaMsoxkZE— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2017
In the comments, someone asks how the Hyperloop pods would slow down and stop and Musk cheekily replies, "Brakes". It's obvious to anyone who knows anything about hyperloop technology, but slowing down and stopping is a difficult issue, but a perfectly solvable one.
Problems that aren't so easily solved, however, have kept the dream machine from becoming a reality so far. Funding is a huge issue: not only is research and development prohibitively expensive, but the fact of the matter is that huge vacuum tubes are not economical to create. Another huge problem is zoning and getting permission from cities and states in order to dig the tunnels. In order to be feasible, the loops would have to run through major cities (or else they could never pay for themselves,) but cities have an infrastructure built underneath them and a hyperloop would have to etch out space from the existing landscape.
But Hyperloop Transportation Technologies claims that they have the capability to create a real-life hyperloop. Many important hurdles need to be jumped before the Hyperloop is ready for construction, but HTT has already covered one of them: the prototype pod that they have built is supposedly sound enough to assume that the hyperloop's cars will look very similar.
The CEO of the company said that we can expect the first Hyperloop to open within the next three years. This is a huge leap forward in mass transit, considering the fact that bullet trains are just now starting to appear in more modern countries. California, one of the initially proposed places for a Hyperloop due to its population density and economic impact, has historically had a very hard time creating transit infrastructure. And the simple fact is the US has resisted creating mass transit infrastructure for decades because it would be inconvenient for car owners and car manufacturers.
But the tide is starting to turn against the automotive industry. If Elon Musk and HTT have their way, someday you could get on a hyperloop track and travel 3,000 miles across your entire continent and end up at work having moved through three time zones in the same time that it takes for you to do your regular commute now. The Hyperloop offers a whole new world of possibilities and will speed up the process of globalization as much as airplanes and the internet did.