Elon Musk's audacious Hyperloop concept is beginning to gather steam. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), one of the startups attempting to make the idea a reality, has today welcomed aboard a company specializing in vacuum technology that will help shape a prototype test track due to begin construction next year.
Originally put forward by Musk in 2013, the Hyperloop concept has been the subject of equal parts excitement and skepticism. It essentially places travelers in pods and whisks them away in above-ground tubes at almost the speed of sound.
This has piqued the interest of Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum, a Swiss company that has toiled in the art of sucking gases out of spaces for more than one hundred years. In the past it has put its vacuum technologies to use in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and high-performance parts for Aston Martins and Ferraris.
"As a pioneer of vacuum technology, this is a very special obligation for us, and our staff welcomes this challenge especially," explains Dr. Martin Fuellenbach, CEO of Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum. "We contribute in delivering our extensive expertise, as well as the necessary calculations and technology to create and maintain the partial vacuum that is needed to reach such high speeds."
HTT says that the team now dedicated to developing a full-scale Hyperloop totals more than 400. It will start building a 5 mile (8 km) test track in Quay Valley, California in 2016 in an effort to demonstrate that a Hyperloop can work in the real world with real passengers.