Hyperloop development heads for the Nevada desert

by Steve Blum • , ,

Elon Musk is serious about adding yet another crazy techno-biz idea to his collection, which already includes no way that can work ventures like PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Originally pitched as a way to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles, his Hyperloop transportation system will get its first test run in the desert north of Las Vegas.

That’s where Hyperloop Technologies is building a test track and technology proving ground for the system, which basically involves shooting a capsule through a long, airless tube at 700 miles per hour. According to a story on the BBC

Hyperloop Technologies has secured $37m (£26m) in funding.

But the initial proposed track from Los Angeles to San Francisco has been estimated at costing $8bn (£5.6bn).

And it will need a lot of buy-in from any government that fancies a Hyperloop in its country.

“The regulatory side is a key part,” one of the cofounders tells me later.

Shervin Pishevar is no stranger to ripping up the transport rulebook.

He was one of Uber’s first backers and says even though the regulators tried to shut Uber down, “people basically forced it open again, because they wanted these types of solutions”

Except that labor interests – unions and their amen corner in Sacramento – are still trying to shut down Uber. Survival of its current business model is by no means a sure thing.

And that’s child’s play compared to the permits and environmental review required to build an elevated tube between San Francisco and LA. So it’s no surprise that initial development is happening in Nevada, and Hyperloop is looking far and wide for a place to build its first full scale prototype system. Don’t bet that’ll be in California. Musk is crazy, not stupid.