Elon Musk might finally be ready to make Hyperloop, the high-speed tubular transportation tech he dreamed up back in 2013, a reality on his own terms
A source “close to Musk” told Bloomberg that the Boring Company CEO will move forward with plans to build his own Hyperloop system inside the underground tunnels planned to beat traffic in LA and the East Coast. The new report is the first claim that Musk will actually build his own Hyperloop track, which could be a blow to the other companies in the field.
Musk recently set the news cycle buzzing when he tweeted out claims that he received “verbal government approval” to build a network of tunnels connecting major cities on the East Coast. He described the tunnels as an “underground Hyperloop,” but didn’t mention who exactly would be providing the tech, which is a key detail because the Boring Company hadn’t shared any plans to build one (aside from a flashy concept video).
The eccentric CEO and serial tweeter famously released his plans for Hyperloop technology to the public in a white paper, but he’s largely stayed out of the race to be the first to build a working version of the system. Musk told reporters at the time that building his own Hyperloop was a “low priority” compared to his responsibilities with SpaceX and Tesla, ceding the work on the technology to companies like Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Techonologies (HTT).
Musk’s other companies have flourished in the four years since he released the open source design — so his focus might be ready to shift toward developing the “fifth form of transportation.” His reputation for turning his moonshot dreams into successful real world systems, star power as a major CEO, and status as the technology’s original architect to arguably makes the Boring Company the biggest player in the space.
Musk’s entry into the Hyperloop development field comes as a surprise, but there were some signs. He owns the trademark to the name “Hyperloop” through SpaceX, which holds a competition for students to develop new pod designs on the company’s track.
The Boring Company’s spokesperson told us that it’s still happy to play ball with competitors, though, if they play by Musk’s rules.
“While we’re encouraged that others are making some progress, we would like to accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible,” they said. “We encourage and support all companies that wish to build Hyperloops and we don’t intend to stop them from using the Hyperloop name as long as they are truthful.”
The rep continued, describing the Boring Company plan to outfit the tunnels with next-gen high-speed transportation systems.
“Most will be standard pressurized tunnels with electric skates going 125+ mph,” they wrote. “For long distance routes in straight lines, such as NY to DC, it will make sense to use pressurized pods in a depressurized tunnel to allow speeds up to approximately 600+ mph (aka Hyperloop).”
But Musk has a long way to go, even with all of his accolades. The companies currently working on Hyperloops might not have moved quickly enough for his tastes, but it’s not for lack of effort.
Hyperloop One, which has been hard at work developing its tech in the Nevada desert, recently conducted its first full-scale tests. The company’s prototypes hit speeds of 69 mph and 192 mph in the loop’s vacuum environment, which is welcome progress after a few years of stop-and-go development — but still a far cry from the 750 mph estimates they’re aiming to reach.
HTT, meanwhile, is focusing on building its pod car system before its Hyperloop track, and hasn’t publicly shared much more than design renders.
Time will tell if the Boring Company’s Hyperloop will be the first one to ferry passengers at high speeds IRL, but it’s Musk’s race to lose, now that he’s entered. We might not be getting those tunnels as soon as he’d have some believe — but you probably don’t want to bet against him.