The Hyperloop, an idea first proposed by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, might seem like science fiction: A super-fast, self-powered and practically indestructible new form of transportation would be pretty wild. But thanks to a newly formed company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (not affiliated with Musk), the idea just inched closer to reality.
The first test track for the Hyperloop is going to be laid in California soon, according to Fortune. The five-mile prototype is expected to cost $100 million and be ready to use by next year. The company just signed off with local landowners so they can get started.
The Hyperloop, a 400-mile transport tube expected to cost $8 billion, will enable a 30-minute commute between Los Angeles and San Francisco. And although Musk is not officially involved in the California prototype, the technology could one day speed up commute times between other cities, such as in Texas, where Musk himself is planning another test track.
Since it was unveiled in 2013, the Hyperloop concept has garnered both excitement and skepticism. An air-propelled futuristic rail line that propels travelers between cities at 800 miles per hour certainly sounds exciting, but some have doubts about the technological feasibility of such a project. Transit authorities in California reportedly balked at the idea, concerned about earthquakes and the fact that such a system would have to span all kinds of terrain and privately owned land.
With today’s news, the project inches away from the sci-fi realm and closer to the real world. If successful, the Hyperloop likely wouldn’t be fully up and running for another decade. Plenty of time to test it out and work out the kinks.