Hyperloop One Prototype Hits 192 MPH in Nevada Test Run

Elon Musk’s sci-fi vacuum train takes another (baby) step closer to production.

byWill Sabel Courtney| UPDATED Aug 2, 2017 4:19 PM

Maybe the idea isn't so far out there after all. Last week, Hyperloop One's prototype, er, hyperloop hit a new milestone, hitting a top speed of 192 miles per hour while traveling nearly 10 times as far under power as in its previous test.  

During the July 29 test, the prototype version of the vacuum-tube mag-lev pod system tested the entire system needed to propel it along, from the aerodynamic XP-1 pod to its suspension, magnetic levitation technology, and electric motors. 

For the test, the half-kilometer long test track was depressurized until the air inside was at the same density as it would be at 200,000 feet above sea level, according to the company. That helped the test bed reach a speed nearly three times that of the first test last May, in which Hyperloop One's levitating carriage only reached about 70 miles per hour

“We’ve proven that our technology works, and we’re now ready to enter into discussions with partners, customers and governments around the world about the full commercialization of our Hyperloop technology,” Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd said in a press release.

Conceived of by Tesla founder Elon Musk, the Hyperloop—when completed—could theoretically enable travel at speeds close to Mach 1 within its vacuum-sealed tube, combining airplane-speed transit and train-style convenience. That could, as Musk stated last month, enable travelers to zip from New York City to Washington, D.C. in as little as 29 minutes. (He also claimed to have received "verbal government approval" to dig a tunnel for just such a Hyperloop, though that idea was met with surprise by many government officials.)

So far, several municipalities have expressed interest in working with Hyperloop One to develop a functioning example once development is complete; the company is examining 11 possible routes in the United States, but is also studying the development of an Abu Dhabi–Dubai system in the United Arab Emirates—a location that, thanks to its wide-open deserts and less-restrictive regulatory climate, might prove more amenable to the building of the world's first vacuum-sealed maglev bullet train. 

Hyperloop One also released a video of the record-setting test that, blessedly, has a near-comical level of drama added to it through gratuitous slow-motion and tense, presumably rights-free orchestration.