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Hyperloop One will conduct its first full-size test in a matter of months

2017 looks to be the year of reckoning for the Hyperloop. Once considered little more than a pipe dream from the wildly ambitious mind of Elon Musk, this supercharged transportation system now appears closer than ever to becoming, well, a real pipe, capable of moving passengers at close to the speed of sound. In the next few months, Hyperloop One, one of the two major companies working on the concept, plans to run the world’s very first full-size test in Las Vegas.

As Hyperloop One co-founder Josh Giegel told Engadget at CES this year, the tube-based system is the way of the future. Despite having a team of just four people two years ago, Giegel and his growing organization have put together a piece of technology that could change the way humans travel forever. The levitating pods that zoom along the near-vacuum environment would be able to move at speeds faster than 700 mph, which means that getting from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take under 40 minutes.

Construction for the upcoming test is “going pretty well,” Giegel said at CES. “We’ve got a couple hundred meters of tube up at this point,” he continued, and now, the team is “moving inside the levitation and propulsion systems.”

While this isn’t the first time that tests have been conducted (last May, the company tried out its levitating electromagnetic motor, managing to hit top speeds of 187 kilometers per hour), this would be the most significant trial to date. “Within a few months you’re going to begin to see some pretty interesting action,” Giegel added.

By 2020, Hyperloop One hopes to have a full system for freight use available, which may be possible depending on how upcoming tests perform. Ultimately, Giegel said, his company hopes to prove that it not only owns the technology behind the impressive transportation system but the ability to bring it to fruition as well.

It’ll have to fend off competition from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies in order to make good on that goal, however. One way or another, though, it looks as though we may soon have another viable method of high-speed transportation.