Elon Musk to build a Hyperloop high-speed transport test track
Elon Musk, billionaire behind Tesla and the SpaceX program, is working on global Internet access from satellites with Greg Wyler, who spent some time devoted to a similar mission at Google (AFP Photo/Mark Ralston)

Serial entrepreneur and real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk , has pledged to build a test track for his ambitious Hyperloop high-speed public transport system in Texas.

The five-mile track will be built to test the feasibility of running a full length track between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which would allow people to travel between the two US west coast cities within 30 minutes. Such a journey would be five hours shorter than the time it would take to drive.

“Will be building a Hyperloop test track for companies and student teams to test out their pods. Most likely in Texas,” said Musk via Twitter. “We are also thinking of having an annual student Hyperloop pod racer competition, like Formula SAE .”

The privateer space pioneer originally unveiled his plans for the Hyperloop transport system in August 2013, posting rough plans and an outline of how the system would work produced by engineers from SpaceX and Tesla.

The Hyperloop would consist of a long elevated tube with a near vacuum, which would reduce friction and allow specialised aluminium pods to hurtle along it at up to 800 miles per hour carrying people and cars. The system was inspired by the pneumatic tubes used to transport mail around some buildings.

Why Texas?

Musk has struggled to generate good will in Texas. The state is one of only a few that bans the sale of Tesla’s electric cars through its direct retail outlets, something Musk has failed to change. They Hyperloop test track could be a way of incentivising Texas legislators to alter rules over direct sale to allow Tesla to sell cars in the state.

Critics have doubted Hyperloop’s viability, questioning how a partial vacuum can be maintained in the tubes at any useful length under real-world conditions including temperature variations. Acquisition of land to build the tubes is also a challenge to overcome, especially when connecting two large urban areas such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Musk has stated that he is not willing to build a complete Hyperloop system and would be looking for a third-party, be that government or another company, to take on the responsibility of building and running the transport mechanism.

• Elon Musk unveils plans for Hyperloop transport system

• This is what a ‘rapid unscheduled disassembly’ looks like

• Is California’s Hyperloop train closer to reality? Startup CEO has ‘no doubt’

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