A section of the Hyperloop, a high-speed transit system between Los Angeles and San Francisco, may be ready for passengers as early as 2018.
The system, first envisioned by billionaire SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013, was conceived as a large tube with individual pods for passengers. Using magnets, the Hyperloop would transport passengers at just below the speed of sound, which would allow travel between the two cities in as little as 30 minutes.
Since Musk first unveiled his plan in a 57-page document open to the public, numerous companies and individuals have pitched their own ideas for how to make the project a reality. Several have conducted trials, and one company has begun the process of constructing an actual section of the Hyperloop.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced on Jan. 21 that it had filed a permit to build a 5-mile track in Quay Valley, California. This section of the track, according to the company, could be ready to transport passengers as early as 2018.
"In 36 months we will have the first passenger in the first full-scale hyperloop," said Bibop Gresta, chief operating officer at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.
HTT uses a crowdsourcing business model, in which it hires over 10,000 people with full-time jobs at companies such as NASA and SpaceX to work on the Hyperloop project in their spare time. The 5-mile track will most likely begin construction in the second quarter of 2015.
"This will be the world's first passenger-ready Hyperloop system," said HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn in a statement. "Everyone traveling on California's [Interstate] 5 in 2016 will be able to see our activities from the freeway."
Other companies, such as HTT rival Hyperloop Tech, are also working on developing the technology to start building tracks. According to Gresta, a full-scale city-to-city Hyperloop may soon be a reality as well, it will most likely not be developed in the U.S.