Friday, September 18, 2015

Elon Musk Reclaims The Hyperloop

When Elon Musk published his 57-page alpha white papers on the concept of a Hyperloop back in 2013, he made a clear intention that they were for some other ambitious group of innovators to take and run with, as he had a bit on his plate already.

Little did he, or really anyone, suspect someone would take up his challenge so quickly, but that is precisely what Dirk Ahlnborn and others did when they created Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. Through successful marketing and crowdfunding efforts, the start-up has made incredible strides in introducing Musk's core concept to real-world applications.

Just recently, Hyperloop Technologies announced a partnership with Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum and global engineering firm Aecom. In exchange for stock options, both companies will facilitate their employees' expertise in how to make Musk's initial vision of a pneumatic tubing network firing passengers across the country a reality. The location of a future prototype has already been chosen the silicon valley-engineered "Quay Valley" that will be situated in between Los Angeles and San Francisco. With more investment, Hyperloop Technologies hopes to have a 5 mile test track built there. The speed at which the concept is developing into actual application illustrates how contagious a good idea can be, and how it can even trump traditional monetary benefit for those who understand its importance. From Wired :

"The startup also announced today that it has 400 'team members' working on the project. They aren’t employees, but women and men with regular gigs at places like NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX, who spend their spare time on Hyperloop in exchange for stock options"

While the interest in the idea owes itself to Musk's white paper publishing, it's worth mentioning his real intention for introducing the idea was to criticize California's high speed rail project- or rather its price tag. Because of this ulterior motive, it has always been tricky to gauge how serious Musk's commitment to the idea really was. That certainly changed in June, however, when the billionaire's company SpaceX announced a competition to design the ideal pod to house passengers for a future Hyperloop project. While the competition only covers one aspect of the incredibly complex endeavor, it proves Musk believes enough in the merits of his idea that he is willing for SpaceX to devote time and money. 

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company (

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