Eccentric tech billionaire Elon Musk took to his Twitter account on April 7 to announce an upcoming speed test for his visionairy Hyperloop. The tweet said the test would aim to “try to reach half speed of sound (and brake) within ~1.2km.”
Upgraded SpaceX/Tesla Hyperloop pod speed test soon. Will try to reach half speed of sound (and brake) within ~1.2km.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 8 April 2018
He then followed the tweet with a reply that called the test “kinda nutty” and stated the train could “end up being shredded metal.” He added the test would be “exciting either way.”
This is kinda nutty for such a short distance, so could easily end up being shredded metal, but exciting either way— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 8, 2018
This is not the first time the tech giant makes extravagant claims on Twitter and, as usual, the media and his followers responded with much enthusiasm. Responses featured a mixture of support for the ambitious project as well as skepticism at the entrepreneur’s ability to deliver on his promises.
Hyperbole much?— Tony Rusi (@marsbeyond) 8 April 2018
Where does the Hyperloop sit?
Musk’s Hyperloop was first introduced in a 2013 white paper and since then it has been unclear under which of his companies the project is classified and whether Musk is actively involved in the project at all. Although these tweets seem to clarify his current involvement, the question of where the Hyperloop sits still remains.
In March of 2018, Musk took to Twitter once again to discuss the Hyperloop but this time referred to the project as a “Boring Company” plan, in contrast to today’s tweet that called the project the “SpaceX/Tesla Hyperloop.” “Adjusting The Boring Company plan: all tunnels & Hyperloop will prioritize pedestrians & cyclists over cars,” Musk wrote in his tweet.
The competition draws closer
Musk may be distracted by bigger issues such as the growing competition in hyperloop transportation. Amongst his rivals are Richard Branson, who has plans to build a hyperloop in India, and Canadian startup TransPod, which is planning a cheaper version of the high-speed transporation system.
Last December, Branson’s Hyperloop One set the current speed record for hyperloop pods, an impressive 240 miles per hour. If Musk’s tweet proves to be true, the SpaceX, Tesla or Boring Company Hyperloop will be breaking that record with a speed of about 381 miles per hour (“half the speed of sound” as tweeted).
SpaceX’s website currently has a call for the third installment of their pod competition in July, the “2018 Hyperloop Pod Competition”. The call says the competition will focus on a single criteria “maximum speed.”
In the meantime, Musk has been busy seeking approvals to build the tunnels required for his super fast train. In July of 2017, he tweeted that he received "verbal approval... at the federal level” to dig a Hyperloop tunnel between New York and Washington DC.
Musk has also received permission to dig tunnels in California and Baltimore and is in discussion for tunnels in Los Angeles and Chicago. In February of 2018, the Boring Company also announced they received a permit from the D.C. government for a tunnel in Washington.
It seems that confusion or not, Musk is on his way to achieving his vision of hyper-speed travel.