Elon Musk teases plan for a record-breaking Hyperloop speed test

Elon Musk is eyeing a speed test for the Hyperloop that, if successful, would push a prototype passenger vehicle to its fastest speed yet.

But the man who dreamed up the idea for whisking people between cities at speeds of around 700 mph admits the test could go horribly wrong and result in the vehicle becoming “shredded metal.” It’s a good job that the trial run will be unmanned, then.

Musk revealed the plan in a tweet on Sunday, April 8, telling his followers of an “upgraded SpaceX/Tesla Hyperloop speed test” that’s coming “soon.”

He said the attempt will involve pushing the pod “to reach half the speed of sound (and brake) within 1.2 km,” equal to three quarters of a mile. That means taking the pod to speeds of up to 383 mph.

A short while later, having apparently had a chance to reflect on his idea, Musk admitted that “this is kinda nutty for such a short distance, so could easily end up being shredded metal,” but said it was “exciting either way.”

If Musk can reach his 383 mph target speed without the pod disintegrating midway through, it will set a new Hyperloop speed record as engineers move steadily toward the 700 mph goal. Virgin’s Hyperloop One holds the current speed record for the system, set in December when its pod hit 240 mph on the world’s first full-scale Hyperloop test site in the Nevada desert.

Ryan Kelly, director of marketing for Hyperloop One, told Digital Trends shortly after the record-breaking effort that its test pod “performed as designed, handling high speeds and levitating in a vacuum tube depressurized to the equivalent of flying at 200,000 feet above sea level.”

Elon Musk first revealed his vision for a high-speed transportation system back in 2013. With his Tesla and SpaceX projects already taking up much of his time, the billionaire entrepreneur decided to step back from developing the system, instead encouraging other companies to lead the way. He has, however, been taking an active role in the development of the passenger pods, organizing events for student groups around the world to design and test their own vehicles.

The machine that’s set to embark on Musk’s proposed speed test is a “pusher” vehicle that helped to drive student pods without motors to high speeds during a contest last summer. In a test by itself, Musk said the vehicle reached 220 mph, adding at the time that with a few design changes it should be able to go much faster. Hopefully, we’ll soon see.

No date was set for the upcoming speed test, but we’ll be sure to update once we know more.


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