SACRAMENTO (CBS Sacramento) – The future of the Jetsons is almost here. In the next few years, you could be commuting to work in a giant tube.
A team of engineers are working on a revolutionary transportation system that would move cargo and people at near supersonic speeds.
Hyperloop Technologies is building a prototype: a huge capsule put into an even larger tube. The capsule floats on a cushion of air inside the tube. Once built, it could travel the nearly 400 mile journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about a half-an-hour.
“We literally build a full-scale tube between any two destinations,” company co-founder Brogan BamBrogan explained to CBS News. “Then inside of that tube we have a pod that we can send either people or cargo very quickly.”
In the past two years, they’ve moved from the drawing board to full-size mockups.
“You can see the hardware we’re building. You can see the team we have. Hyperloop is real,” BamBrogan told CBS News.
Hyperloop has $10 million in seed money and expects another $80 million in second-round funding.
“It feels like we’re at exactly at the beginning of building out the next big global network,” CEO Rob Lloyd told CBS News. “Except it will be a network for people and things rather than for data.”
Lloyd predicts the first functional Hyperloop system will be ready before the end of the decade.
“Three years from now, I believe that we’ll be designing and constructing the first two or three production Hyperloop systems in the world. Five years from now, we’ll be moving goods and people,” Lloyd added.
But not everyone sees the Hyperloop promise as a viable means of transportation.
“I’m concerned that Hyperloop is being used as an argument against high-speed rail,” Jon Christensen, professor at UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, told CBS News. “It doesn’t really solve the bigger problem. [H]ow could you possibly embed this kind of technology within the complicated transportation systems that we already have in cities, and we’re developing in our cities?”
However, Hyperloop executives are confident they will disprove the naysayers.
“Hyperloop will change how we live. Hyperloop’s going to change where we live. Hyperloop is going to change economies,” said Lloyd. “It’s going to completely transform supply chain and manufacturing models. And that’s a pretty darn exciting thought.”