Elon Musk’s vision of the Hyperloop — a lightning-fast transportation system that would shuttle passengers at speeds nearing 700-mph using low-pressure tubes and air compressors — is slowly coming to fruition in the Nevada desert.
In fact, the first ever Hyperloop tubes are neatly lined up in a ditch, waiting to be assembled and then later tested by Hyperloop Technologies at a site in North Las Vegas.
CNN Money caught a glimpse of the tubes during a break in its CES coverage, and well, they are indeed tubes.
Hyperloop Technologies is a private company based in Los Angeles that’s endeavoring — separately from Musk — to construct a functional Hyperloop track by 2021, says CEO Rob Lloyd. But, as with any shimmering piece of innovation that sounds great on paper, Hyperloop Technologies has to vet its equipment, and start testing it this year at a test track in the Nevada desert.
Although the tubes currently look like generic construction material surrounded by swaths of dirt, they’re intended to make history.
Hyperloop Technologies projects that a potential Hyperloop station might look like this one day:
Lloyd, the former chief at networking company Cisco Technologies, told CNN in November that “the architecture [behind Hyperloop] is actually very simple, you just remove the pressure from an enclosed environment — you could think of that as a tube — you remove the friction of wheels by levitating the pod inside the tube, and it takes a very little amount of energy to move that pod at incredible speed.”
So while the tubes have been revealed — what about the pods that will shoot through them, carrying passengers? More than 120 design groups will convene at Texas A&M University on January 29–30 for the Hyperloop Design Weekend. Among them are plans to float the pods as if they were real-life hoverboards.
Not everybody is on board with the Hyperloop idea, as some civil engineers have argued that it’s just not feasible.
The final pod competition will be conducted this summer, when winners of that design contest try out their prototypes on a track in Hawthorne, California.