Elon Musk surprised quite a few people last month when he revealed that his latest plans to dig tunnels would include a proposed underground hyperloop between New York and Washington DC.
The plans for his ‘Boring Company’ were previously limited to networks of tunnels under cities, but the new hyperloop project raised an interesting question: who will be building the hyperloop technology for the project?
The answer is apparently Elon Musk’s own Boring Company.
After I wrote about the New York-DC project, a Boring Company representative reached out to tell me to remove any reference to Musk having anything to do with other startups developing Hyperloop technology – something that wasn’t in my article in the first place.
“The Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system that moves pods of passengers or cargo in low-pressure tubes. Musk released the idea as an open source technology in a white paper in 2013. A few companies, like Hyperloop One, have since been developing commercial versions of the technology while Musk mostly stayed away citing not enough time to pursue the venture between Tesla and SpaceX.”
The eagerness to distance Musk from those companies is now put in the context that he is reportedly looking to develop his own system.
Bloomberg reported today:
“A person close to Musk said his plan is to build the entire thing, including the hyperloop system. Musk also holds a trademark for “Hyperloop” through SpaceX, which could be used to prevent other companies from using the term, according to U.S. public records.”
The Boring Company also issued a statement saying that they don’t plan to block other companies from using the name:
“While we’re encouraged that others are making some progress, we would like to accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible. We encourage and support all companies that wish to build Hyperloops and we don’t intend to stop them from using the Hyperloop name as long as they are truthful.’”
Musk recently reported having “verbal approval” from the federal government for their first hyperloop project and he encouraged the public, especially on the east coast in cities on the New York to Washington DC route, to reach out to their local representative in support of the project.
Hyperloop One, which appears to be the most well-funded startup working on hyperloop technology, has been making some significant progress as of late. They recently achieved a top speed of 192 mph in test with full system in an actual pod in vacuum tube.
Musk could have likely partnered with them, especially considering he knows Shervin Pishevar, the chairman of Hyperloop One, and he referred to the Boring Company as just “a side project” with “a few engineers and interns.”
But SpaceX, his rocket company, has also been developing some of its own hyperloop technology through their “pod competition”.
After all, while Musk said that he didn’t want to be involved in developing a commercial application of the hyperloop, his SpaceX was the first to build a full hyperloop test tube.
SpaceX built a 1-mile long test track in the middle of Los Angeles for the competition. It’s a functional hyperloop tube that can create a near-vacuum from 0.02 psi (~99.8% vacuum) to 14.7 psi (pressure at sea level).
They are going to be holding a new round of their pod competition at the test track later this month. If we were to speculate, we would think that the stakes are now higher for this competition. What if they could recruit the winners to help them build the actual system?
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.