Five seconds of disruption: Hyperloop One tests propulsion system

Who needs cars, trucks, trains, or even planes?

Out in the desert north of Las Vegas this morning, some serious disruption just took place—the kind that could have executives at traditional transportation companies fearing for their professional lives. 

That’s thanks to the first open-air test of Hyperloop One‘s propulsion test, a showcase of technology that could one day propel passengers and cargo through special tubes at speeds of up to 750 miles an hour. At that speed, the trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which takes six hours by car, could be slashed to 30 minutes.

There are innumerable hurdles to overcome before that ever happens—not least of which is that the technology is far, far from being ready to transport anyone or anything, but Hyperloop One, which just closed an $80 million round of funding and announced partnerships with a global roster of transportation industry heavyweights, could be the first to manifest Elon Musk’s vision for a Hyperloop–”a fifth mode after planes, trains, cars, and boats” based on a “low pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube [and which are] supported on a cushion of air, featuring pressurized air and aerodynamic lift.”

The test lasted just seconds, and was at a reduced speed of less than the speed that’s possible on the track, about 400 miles an hour.  

Hyperloop One said that if it gets regulatory cooperation, it expects to being transporting cargo by 2019 and passengers by 2021.