MENLO PARK (KPIX 5) — Engineers in Menlo Park are hoping their work on Elon Musk’s Hyperloop will make the project’s planned 700 mile-an-hour trips to and from Los Angeles a reality.
The Hyperloop could be the future of high-speed transportation.
The small pod vehicle neither flies nor rides on rails, but actually does a little of both.
“The entire pod will lift up in this direction. It’s essentially floating,” said one of the scientists working on the project.
Crowd-funded on Indiegogo and designed by a worldwide team of engineers who came together on the internet, the pod is a working prototype for Musk’s Hyperloop challenge.
Hyperloop is a proposed new form of transportation that would move people in vacuum tubes at high speed.
“The concept is a tube in which you put a vehicle that can go at very high speeds, levitating inside,” said lead engineer Thomas Lambot. “That allows you to cut the transit time, like from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes.”
Belgian-born, NASA engineer Lambot formed a network of volunteers — some who never met in person — into a non-profit called rLoop.
The team ended up coming together here in some research and development lab space donated by TE Connectivity in Menlo Park.
“I think it’s remarkable how they found each other on the web and then be able to complete the pod the way they did,” said Jim Toth of TE Connectivity.
From designing and building a new type of battery system to the technology that uses spinning magnetic motors to ride on a cushion of air, nothing like this had ever been built before.
The team won Hyperloop’s innovation award.
“A lot of the technologies already exist,” said Lambot. “It’s just a matter of putting them together in a smart way to create a final product.”
The pod, nicknamed Infira, will get its first real world test at Musk’s Hyperloop test track in Hawthorne next summer.
rLoop has about 40 core members, and a thousand contributors.