The Hyperloop – Elon Musk's high-speed tube transportation system spanning hundreds of miles – might actually become reality. After releasing preliminary design documents in August 2013, the project has come under mass scrutiny regarding construction cost discrepancies, transport efficiency and real-world usability.
Regardless, Musk's project team has marched on. According to an announcement from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) on Thursday, the project has added to its roster of engineers and architects. The additions include Switzerland-based company Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum, Hodgetts + Fung Architects and LA-based engineering firm AECOM.
These companies will be providing their expertise and support in exchange for stock options in the new company, joining the likes of SpaceX and Boeing, who are already invested in the project.
"It's a validation of the fact that our model works," CEO of HTT Dirk Ahlborn told Wired. "It's the next step."
The project has also released new and more specific outlines of what the actual system – boasting the ability to propel passengers at speeds of up to 800 miles per hour – could look and feel like. Judging by the photos, the interiors look like a sleeker version of your garden-variety aircraft or Amtrak designs.
A partnership with firms like Oerlikon and AECOM is huge — demonstrating that the near sci-fi sounding project is now answerable to two publicly traded companies, along with its multiple shareholders. Oerlikon alone has put about half a dozen employees on the project; in an attempt to figure out how much energy it would take to clear the Hyperloop tube to near zero pressure, and what the costs of that would be.
According to Wired, the project also just announced that it has garnered up to 400 team members to work on the Hyperloop. These aren't just regular employees — they're minds from NASA, Boeing and Space X, who spend their free time lending their resources to designing the transportation system.
Sure, there's a risk involved with working on a project that could yield practically nothing — but the excitement of the expanding project team and multiple investors has started to give the Hyperloop a more realistic shape.
HTT plans to break ground on the project in May 2016 in Quay Valley, California. Although there is still a lot of doubt as to whether this system will actually take off, the growing support for the project is a testament to the seriousness of the team working on it.