- Hyperloop Technologies, Inc. announced it is building a hyperloop test facility in Apex, NV, just north of Las Vegas, the Associated Press reported. Hyperloop technology, an idea straight from the mind of Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk, would be able to transport freight and people through "pneumatic-style" tubes at a velocity close to the speed of sound. Installation of an approximately half-mile track is supposed to begin soon at the HTI facility, with testing to start early next year.
- On its 50-acre facility in Apex, HTI will test a linear electric motor at speeds of up to 335 mph, approximately half the speed at which the full system would operate. The "open air test" cost is unknown, but the company said it has raised $37 million from investors and expects to receive $80 million more in bond financing. Musk, although not involved directly with the project, has estimated a Hyperloop system between San Francisco and Los Angeles would cost $6 billion, although others are skeptical of that figure.
- With Hyperloop technology, passengers or packages would travel in pressurized capsules, supported by a thin cushion of air, through the tubes. The system would be powered by magnetic attraction and solar power. HTI’s goal is to be able to transport at speeds of up to 750 mph, making the 400-mile trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than an hour.
"The physics of it works," R. John Hansman Jr., aeronautics and astronautics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the AP. However, he added that, like moon expeditions, the engineering, technology, scale and cost challenges are significant.
"The real question is, can you get it to a point where it will be cost-competitive with other means of transportation?" Hansman said. "That's a big unknown."
With the goal of delivering a fully operational transportation system by 2020, HTI said it is looking for a site to build longer test tracks.
There are other companies pursuing the hyperloop dream, primarily as a result of Musk dropping an open challenge via an engineering competition with the goal of developing a prototype.
Nevada continues to draw tech giants, a trend some would argue was started by the arrival of Musk’s Tesla gigafactory. Since construction on the facility began, the number of local business licenses has increased, and officials say business leaders are coming to them for a change, interested in either moving or opening new operations in Northern Nevada.
In addition, Faraday Future, electric car manufacturer and competitor of Tesla, is rumored to be focusing on Nevada as a possible site for its $1 billion factory.