Back when Elon Musk announced the Hyperloop, his semi-off-the-cuff proposal for a high-speed train inside a vacuum tube that would link Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area, I was skeptical. However, there are now two different companies working to create the technology needed to make a Musk’s tube train a reality.
Last week brought two big news events involving the Hyperloop. One company, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, announced that they’d licensed a really cool bit of magnetic levitation tech from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It’s a passive system, so that if the Hyperloop loses power, it’ll just drift to a stop instead of crashing dramatically into the track.
Another, Hyperloop One (which was originally and confusingly called Hyperloop Technologies), tested their propulsion system. They went out into the Nevada desert, laid down a track, and used electromagnetism to shove a sled down a track at 116 miles per hour.
I ended up talking to Alissa Walker at Gizmodo about the two companies’ technology and what I think of all of this news. If you want a really great overview of the two companies, plus info about some other would-be Hyperloop contenders and bonus commentary from me, Alissa’s is the go-to article. You’ll also learn how some groups are using the same kind of magnetic technology that’s in refrigerator magnets! I’m still skeptical about the train’s chances, more because of politics than tech. It’s just hard to get a large infrastructure program like this funded and running. But it’s great to see work being done on this technology.