Air and rolling resistance limit the speed of traditional trains (at high velocities drag varies as the square of velocity). The hyperloop largely removes these barriers by floating on a thin cushion of air (much like an air hockey puck) through a partial vacuum. An inlet fan and air-compressor at the front transfer air through the capsule and down to the skis.
The capsules are proposed to travel up to 760 mph, but due to warm, low pressure air, they won't cause sonic booms.
Some critics have questioned the cost estimates and much political capital is invested in an existing high speed rail plan. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies plans a fully operational 5km public hyperloop, with construction due to start in 2016. The success of this project, together with an 8km test track planned by Elon Musk, will reduce resistance to the full-scale hyperloop.
SpaceX is hosting an open competition to design and build the best hyperloop pod. A one-mile test track will be constructed in California, where teams can test their human-scale pods during a competition weekend in June 2016. The knowledge gained will be open-sourced.
Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum and Engineering giant AECOM will provide engineering services for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) in exchange for stock options.
Oerlikon, which has worked on the large hadron collider at CERN, will analyse the costs and energy requirements of the the vacuum. AECOM will assist with building the Hyperloop.
A team of 400 individual part-time team members are already working on the project in their spare time (also receiving stock options).
In 2016, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) plans to break ground on construction of an 8km hyperloop for Quay Valley - a proposed new town in California's central valley with a focus on sustainability.
HTT has an agreement with GROW Holdings, the developer of Quay Valley.
"This installation will allow us to demonstrate all systems on a full scale and immediately begin generating revenues for our shareholders through actual operations," said HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn.
HTT plans to hold an initial public offering later in 2015 to raise US $100 million.
In 2015, a startup company called Hyperloop Technologies raised $8.5 million, with another $80 million in funds projected for later in the year. The high-profile team includes Peter Diamandis, Chairman of the X Prize, Jim Messina, an architect of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, and Shervin Pishevar, a Managing Director at VC firm Sherpa Ventures which backs Uber and Airbnb.
The company aims to 'move people and cargo at speeds never thought possible' and 'make the world smaller, cleaner and more efficient.'
Image via hyperlooptech.com