We have not heard much from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies since last year, when the California-based company released a handful of images and a video to show that it is building what it says is the first trip on a global scale, with passengers ready hyperloop. Today, the company has broken its silence with the announcement that the construction of a kilometer-long test track near its R & D center in France has begun.
HyperloopTT says that its test track will be built in two phases: a closed system of 320 meters that will be operational this year, and a full-scale system of 1 kilometer, raised by pylons at a height of 5.8 meters, to be completed in 2019. A large-scale passenger capsule, currently under construction at the company's facilities in Spain, is scheduled to be delivered this summer.
That would make it the third hyperloop test track in the world to date, and the first in Europe. The other two are in the US US: The Virgin Hyperloop One test track is located in the desert north of Las Vegas, while the Elon Musk track is located outside the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
The video and images of the track under construction at HyperloopTT are the first solid evidence that the company is really pursuing its goal of building a full-scale hyper-flight, ready for passengers, capable of sending people or cargo capsules flying to through an almost airless tube at a hypothetical speed of 760 mph. Previously, all we have seen of the company are some random images and some dubious sound announcements.
By contrast, its rival on the other side of the city, Virgin Hyperloop One has carried out three demonstrations of its non-stop system in the desert just outside of Las Vegas, recently reaching a record speed of 240 mph (387 km / h). The company has agreements with governments in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, in addition to a plethora of leadership churn. And SpaceX has had several versions of its design and engineering competition, with teams led by students that also reach speeds of 200 mph.
HyperloopTT is less a traditional business than an elaborate crowdfunding campaign. The company boasts of being a volunteer and collective collaboration company, with talent from NASA, Boeing, Tesla and SpaceX working among its more than 800 volunteers. HyperloopTT has stumbled upon bureaucratic obstacles. Its test track in California was delayed after it was revealed that the company did not complete the state environmental review process. With the company shifting most of its focus to Europe, it is not clear if HTT's ownership in California is still in the mix.