- Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) CEO Dirk Ahlborn said in an interview with CNBC that his company could open up commercial hyperloop service to the public by 2022. The technology, he said, will be available "probably earlier than you think."
- The Culver City, CA-based company showed off its first passenger capsule at an event in Spain last year and just brought it to France for more testing, and Ahlborn now says they've ordered two more vehicles. The company said in the spring it had started construction on what would be the world’s first hyperloop line in France.
- Ahlborn said some passengers could take rides as early as this year. “If you signed a waiver we could probably ride a little bit earlier," he told CNBC.
Ahlborn has been bullish on beating the competition to get a full-scale hyperloop line, even as companies like Elon Musk’s Boring Company and Virgin Hyperloop One have moved ahead with their own tests and regulatory steps. Virgin Hyperloop, for example, said that a feasibility study showed a potential hyperloop route connecting the Missouri cities of Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis would be commercially viable and safe, a crucial first step. Musk recently showed off an underwhelming Los Angeles tunnel and has touted the viability of several potential hyperloop lines there, in Chicago, Maryland and elsewhere.
HyperloopTT’s test track in France gives it a technological leg up by showing how passenger and shipping containers will work on a test track. The company also partnered with the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency on a feasibility study of a Chicago-to-Cleveland route, on top of its partnership with Abu Dhabi, where the first commercial track is on pace to open.
Given all the unknowns — especially the lack of real-world tests — hyperloop systems are still a ways off. In his CNBC interview, Ahlborn admitted “the big hurdle is the regulatory framework,” and that “there are no laws that regulate it.” As companies move closer in the coming years, those regulatory discussions are likely to heat up, but could also delay passenger use.
“We need to make sure that the safety standards are in place, that everything is tested and you have your safety records, so it just takes a little to get that done, and of course you have to work with governments around the world to create these safety standards,” Ahlborn said.