Elon Musk’s Hyperloop prototype tube is gone. What does it mean for his tunneling dream?
Elon Musk, the visionary founder of Tesla and SpaceX, is known for making bold promises, and when it comes to Hyperloop, he’s made many. The company he launched to develop a passenger-carrying high-speed transportation technology seems on the cusp of completing a first full-scale test tunnel—or at least what Musk has promised will be the first, a 13-mile tube designed to carry high-speed pods of up to 20 passengers.
If the test is successful, according to Musk, the Hyperloop passenger pod will be the first mass-produced and commercialized vehicle of any kind.
But last week, Musk told The Daily Beast that the Hyperloop pod that was supposed to take passengers through the tube—which will be made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, and which Musk described at the Hyperloop conference in July as “a very fast tube”—will not make it to the test site in California’s Silicon Valley. “There will not be a passenger pod on the test track,” he said.
The test tunnel is a crucial step in Musk’s plan to make Hyperloop a transportation technology that will one day carry people on average 40 times faster than the current, slower tube trains. But the failure of the pod and the track it was scheduled to ride on has cast doubt on his project, making it harder to envision how the Hyperloop could work on a mass-market scale.
Musk’s statements to The Daily Beast are not completely clear, but he is saying the test has been canceled. “There will not be a passenger pod on the test track,” Musk said in an email, which is not a confirmation but an interpretation of his earlier remarks. In the past, he has said that the Hyperloop pod would carry up to 20 passengers, but on this occasion when he said there would be no passenger pod on the track, he was referring to the pod itself, which would be the test unit that would be moved in a loop through the full length of the tube