Hyperloop is Here! What the F*ck is Hyperloop, Anyway?

There might trouble in Springfield.


When Tony Stark role model Elon Musk first spoke of Hyperloop, some thought the concept so absurdly unworkable that it had to be a joke. A public transportation system utilizing vacuum tubes through which pressurized, giant bullet-shaped capsules shoot at hypersonic speeds? Los Angeles to San Francisco through tubes at 750 mph? Right. 

Well, it’s real. Thursday Hyperloop Tech gave itself a little coming out party, with a slick video and an introduction on the company’s blog by its new CEO, Rob Lloyd. 

In an introductory blog post, Lloyd called the Hyperloop vision “compelling and disruptive” and referred to Hyperloop as “the most transformative new mode of transportation that the world has seen in decades.” 

The video calls Hyperloop a “fifth mode of transport.” Lloyd, a former president of CISCO, compared building the system to building the internet, writing, that Hyperloop will be “a global network of connected technologies except we will be moving atoms, not bits, and will do so faster, cheaper, safer and greener.”

TechCrunch reported Hyperloop has only raised a little over $11 million at this point, calling that “modest, considering the company’s bigger capex-intensive ambitions.” 

TechCrunch writers Ingrid Lunden and Kim-Mai Cutler write that if Hyperloop’s testing phase goes well, “the next step will be to partner with governments around the world to build real, functioning Hyperloops,” and that could be a problem. California, where Hyperloop developers would likely want to test their system in a tube paralleling Interstate 5, has had a completely different multi-million dollar high-speed rail project in limbo for decades—in part due to resistance from Silicon Valley.  

So—Elon Musk wasn’t joking and this may be what the future looks like, especially to anyone eager to avoid security lines at airports. Unfortunately for this serious project, there will probably be many more jokey comparisons to the Simpsons‘ infamous “Monorail” episode to come. We hope.