CEO wants three sites under construction within five years.
Hyperloop One, the occasionally troubled startup aiming to build Elon Musk’s ultra-high-speed transportation concept, made two major announcements this week. On Tuesday, it said it would conduct a test of its full system within three months. And on Friday, it announced 35 semifinalists in its Global Challenge, in which teams of planners and engineers pitch Hyperloop routes.
Those semifinalists come from 17 countries, and were selected from 2,600 entries. The semifinalists will gather at three “showcases” to pitch their plans—one in New Delhi on February 28th, one in Washington, D.C. on April 6th, and one in London on April 27th. Proposed projects include a triangle route linking Austin, Dallas, and Houston, a route from Mumbai to Delhi, and dozens more.
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Winning projects—around six, according to Inverse—will get to work further with Hyperloop One to connect with financing and government partners. Rob Lloyd, Hyperloop One’s outspoken CEO, told Inverse that the company wants to have three routes in production within five years.
Of course, that would require a Hyperloop that actually works, and the company is moving forward on that front as well. Building on a successful test of its sled-like magnetic propulsion system in May of 2016, the company now says that it will test a full Hyperloop, low-pressure tube and all, within three months. The initial round of tests will push a pod just 500 meters, but the company says that will extend to a few kilometers over 2017.
The company has often referred to this as its “Kitty Hawk moment,” and it will certainly silence a lot of skeptics if it succeeds. But the Global Challenge may in some sense be higher stakes. The Hyperloop, though it was initially pitched by Musk as a lower-cost alternative to traditional high-speed rail, is still the sort of capital intensive project that requires major commitments from heavy-hitting partners. And beyond funding and land, the Hyperloop has to knit into a lot of existing systems in complex ways to deliver on its promise of revolutionizing transportation.
For more on the Hyperloop, watch our video.
Finally, lest we forget, Hyperloop One is not the only Hyperloop company. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, though it has been less public about its technological progress, is conducting feasibility studies for routes in Abu Dhabi, exploring building in India, and waiting on clearance for a project in northern California.