Two Southern California companies competing to develop a Hyperloop high-speed transportation system announced updates of their efforts this week.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies on Monday said it would utilize an advanced propulsion system developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, while rival Hyperloop Technologies announced a new name and millions in new funding.
HTT’s system would utilize passive magnetic levitation technology, which officials said would be safer and more cost-effective than levitation systems used on current high-speed trains in Asia. The mag-lev system relies on charged aluminum coils to float the Hyperloop passenger pods at speeds of more than 750 miles per hour.
HTT argued that it would also eliminate the need for power stations along the way and ensure that pods would slow down and return to tracks in the event of a power failure, USA Today reports.
Hyperloop Technologies Inc., meanwhile, said Wednesday that its name had changed to Hyperloop One. The company also announced an additional $80 million in funding — bringing its overall fundraising to $120 million — and new investments from capital firms and SNCF, France's rail system.
Hyperloop One also announced a series of global partners for its Hyperloop project, including a series of companies focused on freight, rather than passenger, transportation.
"What if you took a whole port and moved it off shore, off-load ships out there and Hyperloop all of it inland and then open up the shore for what it's supposed to be, which is enjoyed by human beings," co-founder Broan BamBrogan said, according to USA Today.
Hyperloop One is constructing a test track near Las Vegas to develop propulsion systems and plans a second, larger track to test its prototype, while HTT aims to build a five-mile track in central California. A third company, called skyTran, partnered with NASA and hopes to build a longer 30-mile track in Nigeria, USA Today noted.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk first floated the Hyperloop in 2013, when he outlined plans to quickly and efficiently move passenger pods through a vacuum tunnel using a system of magnets and fans.
Although Musk invited other companies to put his ideas into practice, SpaceX hosted a Hyperloop pod design competition earlier this year and plans to test small-scale prototypes on a one-mile test track in Texas.
Despite the significant progress, putting an actual Hyperloop into practice remains a long way off. Although the system is estimated to be able move passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just half an hour, that network is also expected to cost more than $6 billion.