“The future is happening!”

So says Hyperloop One, which earlier this week gave the public a first glimpse of the ultra-fast propulsion technology.

LA to San Francisco via a tube in 30 minutes?


In the demo, a low-profile block of aluminum zipped across a short stretch of what looked like railroad tracks before crashing into a tuft of sand and sending a small cloud into the clear skies of the desert north of Las Vegas.

“Three. Two. One. Off it went. Zero to 60 mph in 1.1 seconds, before stopping into a big plume of sand. I was with a couple of site engineers and my cofounder and Hyperloop One’s chief technology officer Brogan Bam Brogan. We whooped, high-fiving all around, and hugs. I had tears mixed with sand,” wrote Hyperloop One’s executive chairman in a blog.

The seconds-long demonstration marked the first public glimpse of a propulsion system that its creators hope will rocket people and cargo through tubes at the speed of sound in five years.

“Live cuts of our amazing test on May 11, 2016 at our test site in North Las Vegas,” the company said in a YouTube video.

“The future is happening!”

(Watch the video at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e-Po9C8Kj8 )

It took place as hundreds of journalists and investors watched from grandstands about 50 yards away after being bused to the site from a swanky casino.

“It’s going to eliminate the barriers we face every day of time and distance. It’s going to change our lives,” CEO Rob Lloyd said a day earlier. “It’s real. It’s happening now.”


A blog by Shervin Pishevar

You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful moment for the future to arrive. The late day sun was dipping behind the Sheep Range behind us, a breeze was picking up and out here in the Nevada desert 30 miles from the Vegas Strip, we were standing behind a chain-link fence looking at the future of transportation–a vision made very real.

On the other side of the fence was a 1,500-pound metal sled, a giant aluminum centipede, resting at the start of a 300-meter track. Under the sled and extending down its center for another 57 meters was a thin linear electric motor that, when juiced with power, would shoot the sled down the track. At Hyperloop One, the startup I cofounded in 2014, we call this rig the POAT, or propulsion open-air test.

Three. Two. One. Off it went. Zero to 60 mph in 1.1 seconds, before stopping into a big plume of sand. I was with a couple of site engineers and my cofounder and Hyperloop One’s chief technology officer Brogan BamBrogan. We whooped, high-fiving all around, and hugs. I had tears mixed with sand. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a hugger. (That’s me in the white pants.) We didn’t know the control room team was going to zoom in. They had bet between themselves we would all hug after so they zoomed in to catch us in the act.

This was my preview of what the world saw on Wednesday, May 11: the first actual working component of the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s bold idea for supersonic travel through near-vacuum tubes. There’s a lot of noise, hope and hype out there about what the Hyperloop could be and will be, but this metal sled absolutely grounds the idea in much-needed reality.

But what was surreal about the whole thing is how far we’ve come so quickly. Hyperloop One is now a team of 150 people in downtown Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but we were a handful of people in Brogan’s LA garage less than two years ago. And the entire POAT site was bare ground less than six months.

I’ve been lucky to have been involved in dozens of startups over the years, including lightning fast scale-up companies like Uber, but I’ve never seen a company move this fast. We’re living in an incredible window of time in human history, when teams of entrepreneurs and engineers can dream big and execute on their vision at an unprecedented scale. Private companies are now doing the things that nations used to do.

There’s something about the idea of the Hyperloop that captures the imagination of ambitious engineers. The benefits of Hyperloop are clear: efficient, on-demand, safe, green and of course fast travel. But the idea of being on the ground floor of commercializing the next mode of transportation goes beyond the delivery of those values. We’ve had amazingly talented Ph.Ds quit their jobs, pull up roots and come join our team because they want to make it happen. Several of them have been living on the site for weeks because they want to make it happen.

There’s a quote from Theodore Roosevelt I had on my wall when I was in high school and college. I read it aloud to the more than 100 guests, investors and press we invited out to the desert to witness this historic moment, and dedicated it to the team.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Surreal, but so real.

Note: Shervin Pishevar is a cofounder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One.

Executives with the Los Angeles-based company said the system could whisk people the 350 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

They described a future where there’s no such thing as a long-distance relationship, and it doesn’t matter where you live because the commute to work would be so quick.

They say the tubes could run underground — a safe alternative to highway crossings and inclement weather.

The propulsion technology involves levitating pods that use electricity and magnets to move through a low-friction environment at more than 700 mph.

The idea was first articulated in a paper by Tesla co-founder Elon Musk in 2013. Musk was busy building his electric car and rooftop solar companies at the time, and offered the idea to whoever wanted to try it out.

The idea has skeptics, including professor James Moore II, director of the University of Southern California’s Transportation Engineering Program.

He credited Musk for the new idea on how to move objects through tubes but said backers would face myriad public policy issues before it’s installed on a large scale, including questions about safety, financing and land ownership.

Such roadblocks are keeping self-driving vehicles off the road decades after the idea was born, he said.

“I would certainly not say nothing will come of hyperloop technology,” Moore said. “But I doubt this specific piece of technology will have a dramatic effect on how we move people and goods in the near term.”

Hyperloop One hopes to start moving cargo by 2019 and people by 2021. It announced Tuesday that it had completed another $80 million round of financing and was partnering with firms including GE and SNCF, the French national railway company.

Hyperloop One secured land in December in North Las Vegas to test the technology in a desert industrial park and will receive $9 million in state tax breaks for its investments in the state.

Company officials hope to combine the separate components later this year for a test it’s calling its “Kitty Hawk moment” — a reference to the Wright Brothers’ inaugural airplane flight.