Two years ago, billionaire CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX visionary Elon Musk made headlines when he released designs for the ‘Hyperloop’ Transport System, which would be capable of rapidly transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco via a tube in under 30 minutes.
The proposed system would use pods about two meters, or around 6.6 feet, in diameter. Musk described the Hyperloop as a “cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table," instilling images of people-packed pods being blasted pneumatically through vacuum tubes.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), the startup aspiring to bring the Hyperloop to life, recently announced plans to begin construction on a full-scale, passenger-ready Hyperloop in 2016. The prototype will run 5 miles through Quay Valley, a planned community rising from nothing along Interstate 5, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The venture already has several potential investors, HTT has claimed.
To develop the technology and actually build it, HTT recently signed agreements to work with Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum and global engineering design firm Aecom. The two companies will provide expertise in exchange for stock options in the company, joining several engineers from Boeing and SpaceX in working on the effort.
Participation from Oerlikon and Aecom helps validate that the HTT’s model works, HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn said. Oerlikon, for example, has been involved in such high-profile projects as the large hadron collider at CERN.
Oerlikon has assigned a half dozen employees on the project, simulating how much energy it would take to clear the Hyperloop tube to near zero pressure, as well as what it would cost. Aecom will assist with building the Hyperloop.
The Hyperloop project has around 400 “team members” working on it. They aren’t exactly employees, as most of them have day jobs at places such as NASA, Boeing and SpaceX. The team members give their time to the Hyperloop project in exchange for stock options.
In other Tesla-related news, Musk earlier this year announced the "Powerwall," which will store solar energy and allow customers to cache grid electricity from non-peak periods to use during peak times, saving money. The wall-mounted gadget is available for order now and comes in a variety of colors. Tesla’s selling price to installers is $3,500 for 10kWh and $3,000 for 7kWh.