- Virgin Hyperloop One reached new speeds earlier this month, topping out at 240 mph on a test track outside of Las Vegas, The Verge reported.
- The record beats the hyperloop's previous maximum speed of 192 mph, which it achieved in August.
- Hyperloop developers still hope to see the technology reach speeds of up to 700 mph, but the company says the test track would need to be expanded another 1.2 miles to do so. With the test pod's available track, the hyperloop's top allowable speed stands at 250 mph.
Ultra-high-speed rail projects have dominated part of the conversation around infrastructure for much of the past year. Cities and states, especially those looking to upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate growing populations and to offset increasing traffic, have turned their attention to potential high-speed rail projects, from the hyperloop to maglev trains.
Last month, hyperloop tech company Arrivo said that it would be partnering with Colorado transportation officials and the E-470 Public Highway Authority to craft a system in Denver that would carry commuters and their vehicles up to 200 mph. Virgin Hyperloop One, too, could be eyeing its own route connecting Pueblo, CO, to Cheyenne, WY, as a likely contender for one of its preferred hyperloop routes.
Elon Musk, the mastermind behind the original hyperloop idea, has also entered into the developers' game. One of Musk's latest ventures, a tunnel-excavating firm called The Boring Company, got the green light from Hawthorne, CA, officials to dig a nearly 2-mile-long tunnel about 50 feet below street level to test a series of high-speed electric sleds. Musk could also begin working on a system connecting New York City to Washington, DC, with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan approving The Boring Company's request to dig 10 miles of tunnel under parts of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
Although the hyperloop concept has yet to be tested in a commercial application, an ultra-high-speed rail line between Vancouver, Canada, and Portland, OR, could tap the technology for the potential $42 billion system. Officials are also considering a maglev train system, which would use superconductive magnets to allow trains to hover just above the tracks. Such systems have gained popularity in Asia, and some developers think U.S. cities are ready to bring maglev trains to the mainstream.