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Hyperloop Nine Years Later and the Debacle Continues

Elon Musk Had An Idea

Elon Musk in 2013 released his white paper for his latest technology titled "Hyperloop." Red flags should have been raised immediately has Elon stated he would not be developing the technology himself. He did host some student competitions but even those have been cancelled.

Elon Musk student hyperloop competition
Elon Musk student hyperloop competition in 2017 - credit Engadget

High Speed Rail Canada released in 2020 a paper critical of the Hyperloop technology. It can be viewed here.  Some of the still pertinent safety issues were outlined including:

  • Security Issues
  • Sudden Decompression
  • Thermal Expansion
  • Pressure
  • Emergency Exits
  • G-Force and Illness
  • Passenger Capacity
  • Hyperloop Technology Needed That Does Not Exist Including: Hyperloop High Speed Switches, Airlock Systems, Turbomolecular Pumps

 Let us look at the two big players today in the hyperloop industry and see how they are progressing.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Started in 2013, Hyperloop  Transportation Technologies company has been at the forefront of promoting hyperloop. 

Hyperloop technologies UAE partnership

Their website's technology page is heavily dominated by CGI (computer-generated-images)  as they have no working prototype.

The reality is they have been great at announcing dates for start up of systems that have not or will not occur. 

In 2019, they announced  Passengers will be able to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 15 minutes at a maximum speed of 1,000kmph in 2023.

In 2019, Bibop Gresta, chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) has said that Hyperloop trials could begin as early as 2020 while commercial operations are likely to commence by 2023. See photo above of signing of the agreement with Talal Al Dhiyebi CEP Aldar.

Hyperlooptt  is still a company with unproven concepts.

Virgin Hyperloop

Hyperloop technology flaws
Virgin's now cancelled Hyperloop passenger system.

The other big company in the hyperloop space is Virgin Hyperloop. Their claim to fame is their 2 person pod that travelled along a short track in 2020.  However, just two short years later and they have abandoned plans for moving people and now are focusing on moving cargo. Perhaps some of the critical flaws in the hyperloop technology played a factor in the decision.

In the process Virgin laid off half their staff and their CEO and co-founder Josh Giegel stepped down

So it is totally up to the private sector how they want to spend and lose their millions of dollars and hyperloop is a proven money pit with no foreseeable return on investment. Governments in autocratic societies, where people have no power, also can spend their money on the hyperloop fantasy. 

Most of us knew in 2013, that Hyperloop could not live up to the hype.