Could Hyperloop be the future of transportation?

Imagine traveling from Rochester to New York City in under 30 minutes. That’s the goal of Hyperloop — high speed transportation in a tube.

It’s in the development stages right now and an Irondequoit man is working on the project.

Charlie Eckert graduated from Irondequoit High School. He got his bachelors at SUNY Binghamton and he’s part of a project that could transform the way we travel.

If you haven’t heard about it: it’s high-speed transportation technology in a tube that could travel up to 700 miles per hour. It’s the brain child of Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX.

Eckert is part of a team from SUNY Binghamton, chosen as a finalist in a SpaceX competition this weekend in California.

Right now, he’s at the University of Michigan working on his PhD. We spoke with him via Skype. He tells us, “A Hyperloop basically is a theoretical concept for high speed transportation. Basically, you’d have a vacuum chamber or near vacuum chamber and a rail and a pod that will levitate on the rail.”

The pod would transport people in a tube. It could go above or below ground.

Nikki Rudd: “Is this the future of transportation?”

Eckert: “It could be. It seems like this competition is definitely a proof of concept to an extent.”

The SpaceX competition starts Friday at its headquarters in California. Students from universities across the country will put their pods to the test on a one-mile Hyperloop track.

“We get to put our pod on the track and see how fast we can get it,” says Eckert. “So, basically, the competition is whose pod can go the fastest without crashing.”

Eckert hopes the pod will reach 220 miles per hour. Not even close to the 700 mile per hour goal from SpaceX. A lot of people are asking: “is Hyperloop just a pipe dream?” But there’s already been talk of one going under Lake Ontario. That could mean getting to Toronto from Rochester in less than ten minutes.

“Just hopefully that works out better than the fast ferry did,” Eckert says. “It’s definitely a cool concept – cool to think about. It would be awesome if it someday works out.”

Elon Musk of SpaceX says he already has government approval to build an underground Hyperloop from New York City to D.C. We contacted the governor’s office. I’m told state officials have no information on the project. But even if it’s years away, this technology shows no signs of slowing down.