It may seem like something out of a science-fiction novel, but the technology really does exist now. And it’s continuing to improve. A lightweight pod, floating magnetically, traveling through a tube at super fast speeds. Like a high-speed train only, according to the company, better and faster.
It’s called Hyperloop and a test track already exists in Nevada. The pods have reached speeds faster than 200 mph, but could go as fast as 670 mph down the line. It would cut travel times dramatically between cities, should the technology become widely available.
According to the company, a trip from Buffalo to Toronto would take 12 minutes, Buffalo to Pittsburgh 25 minutes and Buffalo to New York City only 37 minutes.
Right now, the company is searching for ideal routes to put the first Hyperloops and one of the 10 regions selected could have some good implications for Buffalo and WNY. Hyperloop selected a route from Montreal to Toronto, linking with Ottawa, as one of the winners of its Global Challenge. According to the company, “the next logical step for a Hyperloop network would be to extend into the U.S., west to Detroit from Windsor, Ontario, and east from Quebec to Niagara Falls/Buffalo”.
But what exactly is Hyperloop? The “track” is an enclosed tube and the pods, which would transport people or goods, accelerates via electric propulsion. The vehicle actually floats above the track thanks to magnets and travels at “airline speeds” thanks to the low-pressure tube.
Among the nine other routes selected as winners in the Global Challenge include four in the United States, two in the United Kingdom, two in India and one in Mexico. As the company explores where to introduce the first commercial routes, it “ will now work closely with each winning team to validate and analyze their proposals further, and provide initial ridership forecasts, business case and preliminary technical analysis of the route and corridor, tailored to the needs of the individual route.”
Hyperloop hasn't selected a location for its first routes, so these winners could be an indicator for early sites. But that's still a few years down the road and any potential expansion to WNY is still just speculation.
You can use this tool on the company’s website to calculate how much time you might save between particular cities, should a Hyperloop track be introduced in that area.
According to the company, commercial use isn’t so far off in the future. Hyperloop hopes to have multiple routes in operation by 2021.