Proposed to the world almost a decade ago by Elon Musk, the open-to-all industrial research project known as “Hyperloop” seems to have taken a serious turn for the worse. At the SpaceX site in California, the test tube for the Hyperloop is being destroyed.
The technological lock has never been broken
What if the Hyperloop never saw the light of day? Proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, this concept quickly won over many companies. These – including SpaceX – then began research into what was presented as the means of transport of the future. As explained Bloomberg in an article from November 3, 2022, SpaceX has just abandoned its plans in this area. Close to its offices in Hawthorne, California (United States), the test tube for the Hyperloop is being demolished and will be replaced by parking for employees. The tunnel in question would also be out of service since the beginning of 2022.
According to the American daily, the project never managed to breaking the technological lock, that is to say the obstacle(s) linked to the technological spaces chosen in the research & development program. It may for example be a material constraint or even insufficient resources. Remember that the basic idea of the concept is very ambitious because it involves circulating – in a raised double tube – capsules carrying passengers and goods. The interior of the tubes is under low pressure in order to limit the frictions of the air and thus hope to reach unprecedented speeds exceeding 1,000 km/h.
Research continues elsewhere
The abandonment of SpaceX represents a new sign that the concept tends to run out of steam greatly. Recall that in February 2022, the Virgin Hyperloop company decided to abandon its passenger transport project to focus on a freight transport concept. Let us also quote the statements of the renowned French engineer François Lacôte in 2018, having described the Hyperloop as “tremendous technical-intellectual scam”. The expert had on this occasion listed several technical dead ends which, according to him, make it impossible to apply the concept in reality.
Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize that the Hyperloop research actors are quite numerous. Some are even still very active, such as the Canadian company TransPod and its prototype presented in August 2022. In July 2021, HyperloopTT presented its ultra-fast container transport concept. We should also mention the Dutch start-up Hardt Hyperloop which, in 2020, carried out an extensive feasibility study on a line connecting Amsterdam to Paris in just 1h30.