About every century, geniuses, inventors and engineers manage to develop a new and highly effective method of transportation. In the early 1800s, the first steam locomotive railway was introduced to the world. In the 1900s, the first airplane was born. And it seems that humankind is about to be introduced to what could be the fastest method of transportation on earth: the hyperloop.
The idea of a hyperloop track was originally introduced by a joint team of members from Tesla and SpaceX – which would consist of a sealed tube and a pod that can travel at incredibly high velocity—around 670mph—without being affected by air resistance or friction. The idea is to bring cities even closer together by reducing the amount of time it takes to travel. Although the first prototype has been under construction for a period of time, it has only recently come to light when Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday that The Boring Company’s first hyperloop test tunnel is opening on December 10 in California.
The test loop will not initially be hitting speeds of 670mph or 700mph. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, quite literally, dug a hole into their parking lot in California and has slowly been transforming it into their hyperloop prototype. If this endeavor turns out successful, America may be onto the next revolutionary method of transportation.
Although Elon Musk’s The Boring Company seems to be the first settler in this new industry, a few companies are not far behind. Currently, plans are set for a hyperloop to be established in Dubai by 2019. Perhaps more excitingly, Virgin Hyperloop One, another hyperloop-based company, could make Missouri an epicenter for the latest 21st-century transportation technology.
Hyperloop CEO Rob Lloyd said in a release statement that Missouri was the birth of the highway system and that it could now become the center of a nationwide hyperloop network. Black & Veatch has been conducting a nine-month study and it finds that a hyperloop route along I-70, which connects St. Louis and Kansas City, would have almost completely flat terrain. Black & Veatch has been prospecting various locations for a path that would be the easiest to build on. Missouri’s I-70 matches those requirements almost perfectly. If this idea takes place, it would connect St. Louis, Columbia, and Kansas City, taking 3.5 hours of travel in driving down to thirty minutes in riding—all for a price less than a gallon of gas.
This idea does not come without doubts. Some estimates say that the track could cost $25 million to $27 million a mile, and with 250 miles between STL and KC, it could easily become a multi-billion dollar project. Some experts are concerned about the structural integrity of such an accomplishment. History has seen countless accidents with boats, trains, cars and planes, and a 700-mph pod would be no exception. Main concerns are the effects of expansion and contraction due to weather conditions.
If things are expected to continue as planned, Missouri could see the newest method of transportation as early as 2020, and if later down the road it turns out that the economic conditions are not favorable, the state will at least have a striking landmark to last throughout the years.