Back in 2013, Tesla CEO Elon Musk conceived the “hyperloop” — a futuristic form of transportation that takes place in a pressurized tube in which passengers can travel up to speeds near 700 mph — and asked anyone who was interested to take a swing at developing the technology. What resulted was a race to the finish between two similarly named companies, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) and Hyperloop Technologies, Inc (HTI).
Tonight’s event from HTI follows an announcement earlier this week from HTT that it had “exclusively licensed” a technology that diverges from the system originally proposed by Musk. But, despite those differences, the company hopes it can pass its extremely close rival.
Tonight, though, the Los Angeles-based HTI kicked off an exclusive weekend debut of its take on the hyperloop at Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas, Nevada. With coverage streaming live through HTI’s Twitter (along with those in attendance), the event began at 5 p.m. Pacific Time as CEO Rob Lloyd welcomed roughly-250 guests to the exclusive night in the desert. The company reported that it has raised $80 million in venture capital financing and formed key relationships with transportation, engineering, and infrastructure firms in order to harness, the report said, “the most creative minds in making Hyperloop a reality.”
The company, barely two years old, has leaps and bounds to go before the first official test — with land rights and the proper right-of-way to achieve the speeds that the technology promises. Regardless, tonight’s announcements displayed massive confidence in a project that looks like it belongs in a sci-fi film.
Possibly the biggest announcement was the company’s rebranding, putting one giant foot ahead of its rivals with a new name, “Hyperloop One”, which helps the company both establish and differentiate its position. “We can assure you that we’re the one company that’s ahead of all the others in executing on this vision,” said Lloyd.
The company also announced its intentions to not only move commercial passengers, but also act as a new-age freight service. CTO Bam Brogan went on to talk about Hyperloop One’s intentions for environmental conservation, stating that the system should “use less power, create less pollution, take up less land, and make less noise.” The technology is set for a propulsion test tomorrow and a total system test in Q4 of 2016.
“It’s going to take a movement to bring Hyperloop to every region in the world,” said co-founder Shervin Pishevar. Pishevar says that we need a new grid, “one that eliminates the barriers of time, distance and cost.”
The company also announced the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, which puts the future locations in the hands of any interested communities. Working with local leaders and private businesses, citizens interested in receiving a corridor for their community will have their submissions reviewed by a panel of judges. The first entry from a group known as Connekt Netherlands is actually a contest, run by the company itself.
Finally, Hyperloop One answered one of the biggest questions from its eager social following: Where was tonight’s live stream? “A bunch of people asking if we are live-streaming,” the company said in a tweet. “Not until our “Kitty ‘Hawk’ moment coming later this year.” A “Kitty Hawk” refers to a moment when something impossible is achieved, but it also relates to the location of Hyperloop One’s first flight test. It’s an ambitious tweet, but the company seems more than ready to deliver with tomorrow’s test.