Meet the companies making Elon Musk’s hyperloop a reality

Rendering courtesy Hyperloop One

Sonic Reducer

In August 2013, entrepreneur and mad genius Elon Musk unveiled the hyperloop, a supersonic transportation system based around pneumatic tubes. He described the tech as a “cross between a Concorde… and an air hockey table.”

The 100% solar-powered technology would be immune to weather conditions and travel at twice the speed of a plane.

Musk promptly open sourced the concept – although neither Musk nor his corporations is involved in the construction of the technology, “[they] are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype.”

To that end, Musk’s SpaceX will host a Hyperloop Pod Competition this summer, constructing a one-mile test track at their Hawthorne, California headquarters that will allow teams to test full-size pods. An official date for the competition has yet to be set.

Several companies have already been formed to tackle the problem head on.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is the largest company currently working on the tech, with over 400 employees spread across 26 countries. They’ve also broken ground on a five-mile test track in central California; it’s expected to be passenger-ready in 2018.

Hyperloop One, also based out of California, is constructing a half-mile test track of its own in the desert north of Las Vegas. Last month, they performed a propulsion open-air test at the track, speeding a small sled up to 116 miles per hour in 1.1 seconds. The company recently closed a $80 million Series B round, funded in part by the French national rail company SNCF.

Just yesterday, the company unveiled a partnership with Russia’s Summa Group to build a transcontinental route as well as replace Moscow’s subway system.

Hyperloop technology still faces a vast number of hurdles – technological, regulatory, and financial – before it becomes a viable transportation alternative. Consider too, that the hyperloop is hardly the first pneumatic tube-based travel concepts – rocketry pioneer Robert Goddard conceived of a remarkably similar idea in 1908.

Still, it’s nice to think that our children won’t have to rely on Amtrak to get around the country.