Hyperloop One Completes 1st Public Test of Futuristic Transportation System

The public got its first glimpse at the futuristic transportation system.

BySusanna Kim
May 11, 2016, 3:27 PM

— -- Three years after Elon Musk came up his idea of Hyperloop transportation, engineers demoed the futuristic system today.

The company that is making Musk's vision a reality, Hyperloop One, conducted a propulsion open-air test in North Las Vegas today, the first of many full-scale tests. The company, which announced yesterday that it had changed its name from Hyperloop Technologies, has quickly grown to 150 employees at its headquarters in Los Angeles since it was founded just two years ago.

The Hyperloop is a large pneumatic tube, similar to the system used by some hospitals to transport documents, samples and medications in a more efficient manner. Many describe the system as an alternative to the high-speed rail under construction in California.

PHOTO: A recovery vehicle and a test sled sit on rails after the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in Las Vegas.
A recovery vehicle and a test sled sit on rails after the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in Las Vegas.
David Becker/Getty Images

The open-air test today, which lasted just seconds, didn't carry passengers, but effectively showcased the technology that could one day transport passengers at speeds of up to 750 miles per hour. For the demonstration, the engineers prepared a pile of sand to stop the test sled.

PHOTO: Engineers, creative minds and corporate partners unite to form a worldwide hyperloop ecosystem.
Engineers, creative minds and corporate partners unite to form a worldwide hyperloop ecosystem.
Joshua Caldwell of Cryptic Butterfly Photography

The company announced a contest yesterday inviting cities, regions or countries to submit a case for why they should host the first Hyperloop network. The deadline is Sept. 15 and the best projects will be selected by March 2017.

Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, first unveiled the futuristic idea in a 2013 report, calling it "a cross between a Concord, a rail gun and an air hockey table." The 57-page design plan was made available on both Tesla Motors' and SpaceX's blogs as a PDF available for download. Musk is not affiliated with Hyperloop One.

PHOTO: Engineers, creative minds and corporate partners unite to form a worldwide hyperloop ecosystem.
Engineers, creative minds and corporate partners unite to form a worldwide hyperloop ecosystem.
Joshua Caldwell of Cryptic Butterfly Photography

For human travel, Musk's plan calls for mounting a large fan to the front of a pod, which would re-direct high pressure to the rear of the capsule, facilitating even higher speeds. The result: the Hyperloop could carry travelers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour.

PHOTO: Engineers, creative minds and corporate partners unite to form a worldwide hyperloop ecosystem.
Engineers, creative minds and corporate partners unite to form a worldwide hyperloop ecosystem.
Joshua Caldwell of Cryptic Butterfly Photography

ABC News' Alyssa Newcomb contributed to this report.

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