The Hyperloop is fast, it is cool and it is expensive. It is also struggling to come to life and become a reality after so many stories tracking its development. The most that has been done so far is a half-kilometer test track north of Las Vegas, and a traveling show soliciting for proposals for the first routes. Government officials and bureaucrats want it to work, in the hopes that it would improve transportation and infrastructure through private investment rather than through government funding.
A recent study by the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that it would require more than $2 trillion over the next ten years to improve infrastructure. President Trump has promised to allocate the money, as well as encouraging the private sector to get involved, or encouraging private-public partnerships (PPP). Perhaps Hyperloop One is hoping for a piece of that funding pie. Despite no lack of private investment opportunities, maybe Hyperloop One is looking for more than just funding but regulation support.
The Hyperloop One team kicked off a roadshow in Washington. D.C. to raise awareness and get a read from government representatives. One aim of the event was to solicit ideas and plans for the Hyperloop One’s first implementation. Officials and planners from the U.S. and across the world attended and joined in the discussion about the best Hyperloop routes, The Verge reported.
The infrastructure for Hyperloop One does not yet exist, however, the theoretical basis of the bold technology has been in discussion since the 1970s and earlier. The main idea behind the 700 mile speeds is to have the vehicles or capsules to travel in a tunnel with a partial vacuum. In ideal conditions with as much vacuum as possible, you can transport an object inside an airless pipe or tunnel and it would zoom from one end to the other with almost no energy expenditure.
Although this has been proven in the lab with pipes and pingpong balls, it is another matter to scale up with vehicles the size of train cars. Underground tunnels would have to be dug, a low friction rail system set in place, and then a vacuum has to be maintained, in order to reach near supersonic speeds. In addition, vehicles have to withstand the stress of a quick acceleration and deceleration that the system will create. On top of that, the passenger safety factors have to be considered. Whiplash can be a regular occurrence.
The Hyperloop concept is clearly an expensive project that will need time and capital to bring to life in a heavily regulated infrastructure and transportation industry. However, it has not been lacking in private investments, which is where Hyperloop One needs to keep focusing. Waiting for financial support from the government will only bring higher costs and bigger barriers. Bold Business encourages greater private sector involvement in infrastructure projects to get them moving more quickly and at lower costs, or further consideration into private-public partnerships (PPP).