Hyperloop One took a big step forward in the world of ultra-high-speed rail this week, propelling a passenger pod 192 mph in roughly five seconds, according to Wired. That speed is still far off proposed speeds of up to 750 mph, Newsweek reported.
The 28-foot-long pod is made of aluminum and carbon fiber. It uses an electric propulsion system and magnetic levitation to push the car through the tube, from which engineers have removed most of the air. The mag-lev system requires less energy to reach the top speeds required.
Hyperloop One aims to reach up to 250 mph in the Nevada testing center, says Tech Crunch, but it will need more runway to achieve higher speeds. The proposed Abu Dhabi to Dubai route should reach up to 500 mph, making the nearly 100-mile trip in roughly 12 minutes.
The news of Hyperloop One's test comes just days after Elon Musk claimed on Twitter that he had secured government approval to build a hyperloop connecting New York City to Washington, DC. (Whether he actually got the OK is still in question.) The ultra-high-speed-rail would reportedly transport passengers between the cities via Philadelphia and Baltimore in a 29-minute trip. While Musk said his tunnel-boring firm, The Boring Company, would complete the project, he has not yet confirmed what government agency signed off it.
Known for his high-tech ventures, Musk first proposed the hyperloop in 2012, and since then has announced more details of and major steps toward achieving it. Musk is not without a competitor, however.
The Culver City, CA–based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is on its way to commercializing its own hyperloop, the Hyper Tube Express, after signing a licensing deal with South Korea — a step Hyperloop One officials have called the next "big pivot".
Challenges to commercialization remain for both projects, among them getting code officials and certification agencies to sign off on safety. They'll also need to come up with the funds to scale the system to compete with existing mass-transit operators like airlines. And they'll have to determine where they fit in the current matrix of publicly and privately operated transit.
Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd told TechCrunch that the team is on track to officially announce projects and partners by early 2018, and it aims to launch its first three working hyperloop systems three years later. The next step, he said, is figuring out the airlock — a development that will help guide station design and the system's overall concept.