It seems like pure science fiction – the idea that human beings can be whisked away from one point to another at 800 mph.
That, however, is more realistic than say, traveling at the speed of light. Fortunately, Elon Musk's fantastic idea of transporting people in air-locked pods will now come into being.
But first, some history. In 2013, a high-speed train was proposed to connect Los Angeles to San Franciso with a travel time of 160 minutes. It would cost $60 billion.
Elon Musk, being the real-life Tony Stark the internet has imagined him to be, had a better idea: using magnetically levitated trains that would connect the two major cities in just 30 minutes. It would also cost only $6 billion.
Not only did Musk set the idea free, he also open-sourced the project for the rest of us to figure out (while he figured how to get us to Mars). He called his futuristic project of speedy mass transportation the Hyperloop.
Since then, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), which has no affiliation to Elon Musk or any of his ventures, has taken over the reins of taking out the fiction of science fiction travel.
Last year, the company said they'd begin building a $150 million five-mile test track in California's Quay Valley. That was supposed to be in November, but as they say, better late than never. Just a few months behind schedule, HTT is reported to finally break ground on that Hyperloop test track.
As a test track, HTT's engineers will finally be able to figure out a few quirks originally proposed in Elon Musk's 57-page white paper on the Hyperloop. Because the Hyperloop trains can travel at such high speeds, for example, engineers have to figure out how to decrease the effects of traveling at such high speeds on the human body.
Moreover, safety precautions preventing passengers from getting trapped inside the Hyperloop pods need to be ironed out. Similarly, a proper traffic flow system needs to be laid out if there are to be multiple Hyperloop pods crisscrossing across California.
That could be much farther off into the future, however, at least in the United States. The first full-length Hyperloop track could be built in Asia instead. Due to a greater need for better transportation infrastructure and more lenient policies in the region, the Hyperloop dream may just begin on the other side of the world.
Photo: Steve Jurvetson | Flickr