Hyperloop One, one of the startups racing to build a futuristic and high-speed system of depressurized tubes for transporting people and packages, has opened its first manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas.
The plant, which will be used to make and test components for its Hyperloop prototype named DevLoop, is a positive development for a company embroiled in internal chaos that has included accusations of a failed coup attempt, a restraining order request, and a legal battle between co-founders.
Hyperloop One Metalworks is a 105,000-square-foot tooling and fabrication plant that will employ engineers, machinists, and welders while housing a test lab, which will be used to improve the propulsion system that launches a Hyperloop vehicle to high speeds. Some of the parts that will be produced at Hyperloop One Metalworks in the next few months include the joints between the Hyperloop tube, its supporting columns, and the cradles that hold and protect the tubes prior to their installation, the company explains.
Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd, the former president of Cisco, says it will demonstrate DevLoop, a full-scale, high-speed test of its track, vehicle, and controlled-environment tube by early 2017.
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Hyperloop One, founded by Brogan BamBrogan, who has since left, and Shervin Pishevar, is just one of several commercial startups and student teams trying to build the transportation system that theoretically will send people and cargo through depressurized tubes at speeds of up to 760 mph.
The idea for hyperloop was first floated in 2013 by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who challenged others to pursue and potentially develop the concept. Hyperloop One and competitor Hyperloop Transportation Technologies were among the first to jump at the idea.
It’s still not totally clear if the Hyperloop concept will even work. But that hasn’t stopped student teams from universities or private companies from doggedly pursuing and developing this concept into something real.
Rival Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has made progress as well. HTT announced in March that it reached an agreement with Slovakia to explore building a 50 mile Bratislava-to-Vienna Hyperloop route that would take an estimated eight minutes to travel between at full speed. On Thursday, HTT said it had agreed to work with Deutsche Bahn on a conventional train that will use new technology developed by the startup.
This startup wants to build a better hyperloop:
Before the bizarre legal drama began playing out, there been steady activity from Hyperloop One in recent months. The company, along with Summa Group—the industrial port logistics, engineering, and oil and gas conglomerate owned by Russian oligarch Ziyavudin Magomedov—announced in June that they had signed an agreement with city of Moscow to explore building high-capacity passenger systems connected to the Russian city’s transport system.
In May, Hyperloop One held its first open-air test of its propulsion system in North Las Vegas, Nev. At the event, the company announced a number of new global partnerships. Multinational engineering firm AECOM, underground engineering specialists Amberg Group, U.K.-based engineering and design company ARUP, German railway and logistics giant Deutsche Bahn, FS Links Ab, and KPMG are just some of the companies partnering with the startup.