The Hyperloop is fast, it is cool and it is expensive. It also does not exist yet. 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. And yet, government officials and bureaucrats want it to work, in the hopes that it would improve transportation and infrastructure.
However, for all the enthusiasm about the hype of the Hyperloop- including being hailed as the future of transportation – no state or local government has come forward and offered money to do it.
A recent study has shown by the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that it would require more than $2 trillion over ten years for infrastructure. Although President Trump has promised to allocate the money, it is unclear how the U.S. government will raise the necessary funds.
The Hyperloop One team boldly 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 is an investment in an expensive infrastructure and regulations heavy industry. However, it has not been lacking in private investments. What it is lacking is government support and a clear cut go signal from interested parties. There are dozens of cities and states interested in the project but so far none have shown anything more than attendance in conferences.