Four years after publishing the whitepaper that kicked off the current Hyperloop craze, Elon Musk is back in the game. After open sourcing his initial plan, two companies — Hyperloop One, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies — hit the ground running. We witnessed the former testing its propulsion system in Nevada last year, and hit speeds of 192 MPH in a full-scale test just weeks ago.
Then there’s Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, who is currently in talks with government officials in India about building its own levitating pods to service the world’s second largest population.
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And if that weren’t enough, new arrival, Arrivo, has recently burst on to the scene.
But as with all good stories, this one could come full circle. Reports last month suggested Elon Musk was serious about using his tunneling endeavor, “The Boring Company,” to dig tunnels that could one day support a Hyperloop.
Days later, Musk himself confirmed he’d received “verbal [government] approval” to build a New York-Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington D.C. hyperloop that could run from D.C. to NYC in a mere 29 minutes, a four-plus hour trip by car.
A Boring Company representative told Wired:
At the Boring Company, we plan to build low cost, fast-to-dig tunnels that will house new high-speed transportation systems. Most will be standard pressurized tunnels with electric skates going 125+ mph. For long distance routes in straight lines, such as NY to DC, it will make sense to use pressurized pods in a depressurized tunnel to allow speeds up to approximately 600+ mph (aka Hyperloop).
Musk previously stated he wouldn’t seek to commercialize the technology in the original whitepaper unless other companies weren’t moving quickly enough. In Musk’s world, four years must seem like an eternity.
Some in the industry, like Dirk Ahlborn, aren’t taking the news all that well. “You would at least have wanted Musk to say, ‘OK guys, how can we do this together?’ or ‘How can I help?,’ rather than saying ‘Hey, I’m just gonna do it, thank you for making this known worldwide even more than it was before and showing the progress and making sure that people believe in it.”
Others, like former Hyperloop One CTO Brogan BamBrogan — who’s currently at upstart Hyperloop company Arrivo — believes the move could be a positive one. “The industry can’t get built by any one company,” BamBrogan said. “And to have a heavyweight like Elon put his hat in the ring says a lot of good things.
Good or bad, there’s no arguing that competition sparks results.