Elon Musk Is Planning His Own Hyperloop, Report Says

Musk apparently doesn't want to sit on the sidelines anymore.

Amazing Tesla

After Elon Musk first dropped the idea of a "Hyperloop" high-speed transportation system into the public consciousness with a 2013 white paper, a handful of startups were created to bring Musk's idea to life. Musk originally said he would leave Hyperloop development to others, but he has apparently changed his mind. Last month, he tweeted that he had "verbal approval" to begin digging tunnels for a Hyperloop between New York City and Washington, D.C. Now, Bloomberg reports that Musk really is going forward with the project.

"While we're encouraged that others are making some progress, we would like to accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible," Musk's Boring Company said in a statement to Bloomberg. "We encourage and support all companies that wish to build Hyperloops and we don't intend to stop them from using the Hyperloop name as long as they are truthful."

Musk retains the trademark for the "Hyperloop" name, Bloomberg noted, citing an anonymous person close to the Tesla and SpaceX CEO. While the Boring Company statement indicated Musk won't intervene in other companies' use of the name, he was reportedly becoming frustrated that his name was being associated with companies he had nothing to do with.

Three major startups are known to be working on Hyperloop projects. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One are more well-established, with Hyperloop One recently accelerating one of its pods to 192 mph. Hyperloop One founder Brogan BamBrogan was ousted from the company he helped create last year and subsequently formed the third significant Hyperloop player, Arrivo.

Musk's original proposal described an above-ground Hyperloop, with the tubes suspended in the air to account for changes in terrain. But the advent of the Boring Company, which Musk created to dig tunnels under cities as a way to circumvent traffic, means the system could be placed underground. That would likely be necessary to achieve the New York-D.C. route Musk tweeted about, as finding land above ground would be difficult in the thickly-settled Northeast corridor (a problem that has plagued the development of true high-speed rail in the area, for example). 

Despite all of the enthusiastic talk of Hyperloops, it's unclear whether the technology will really be able to deliver on Musk's promises. Practical details—such as how to evacuate passengers in emergencies, and whether people will be able to tolerate the intense accelerative forces involved—have yet to be solved. And even with tunnels, building a dedicated Hyperloop right of way will also be expensive and complicated.