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Elon Musk’s super-fast Hyperloop is about to be tested for real

Anyone who’s experienced the UK’s lethargic National Rail will know we’re desperate for something better…

The super-fast Hyperloop transportation system is finally getting a real-life test track.

Hyperloop Technologies has secured a 50-acre site in Las Vegas that will be used for early trials of the technology.

Elon Musk first proposed the concept for Hyperloop back in 2012, revealing plans for a conceptual high-speed transportation system that can travel up to speeds of 1,220km/h – with an average speed of 962km/h.

The Las Vegas ‘Propulsion Open Air Test’ will see a custom-built electric motor trialled on a 1km track at speeds of 540km/h.

Check out the video below for an idea of what that might look like:

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Hyperloop Technologies is also working on selecting a site for a 3km full-scale Hyperloop prototype, which should be operational by late 2016/early 2017.

The end goal is to deliver a commercially viable, fully operational Hyperloop system as soon as 2020.

The Las Vegas tests are a critical first step to achieving this target, and will begin early next year.

“This decision represents another major milestone in our journey to bring Hyperloop to commercial reality,” says Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop Technologies.

“Hyperloop Technologies will invest first in regions where we receive government advocacy to move fast,” he adds.

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Related: Hyperloop: Everything you need to know

The company describes Hyperloop as the “fifth mode of transport”, and hopes the system will eventually revolutionise public and commercial locomotion.

The basic idea is to have a long tube with a track inside, with passenger/cargo pods hauled along at high speeds.

“Hyperloop pods are much smaller than most planes and trains and are designed to depart as often as every 10 seconds,” explains the company.

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Even Hyperloop’s proposed average speed is higher than the typical cruising air speed for long-distance commercial passenger flights (approximately 878 to 926km/h).

As such, the development of a real, working, carbon-free Hyperloop could offer a serious and viable alternative to the airline industry.

What’s more, because Hyperloop is designed to work underwater too, it could provide an easy and quick way to travel internationally.

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