It might still seem utterly futuristic and the technology is still really to be proven, but more and more government bodies around the world are getting behind the idea of a hyperloop. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT) is the latest to latch onto the idea of supersonic tube travel, heading up a coalition of public-private partners to push for the construction of a hyperloop that would allow for a 25-minute trip across the length of the state.
To travel from Kansas City on Missouri's western border to St Louis on its eastern frontier currently takes just under four hours by car along the I-70 interstate highway. A hyperloop system connecting the two cities, via the central city of Columbia, would make it entirely possible to live in one and work, study and play in the other, with the estimated trip time coming in at 24.9 minutes.
That is still a ways off, but the proposal first made two years ago by MDOT to transport startup Hyperloop One is starting to gain some serious attention. The newly announced Missouri Hyperloop Coalition sees the Kansas City Tech Council, the Missouri Innovation Center and the St Louis Regional Chamber of commerce get behind the idea and now looks to fund a study into its feasibility.
"It is clear from our conversations with Hyperloop One that they were impressed with our initial proposal," says Andrew Smith, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the St. Louis Regional Chamber. "Our proposed route connects two major metropolitan areas in the same state along with a major research university, and we have the most favorable regulatory and cost environment of any proposed build site. Hyperloop One is encouraging us to take the next step with an engineering feasibility study."
That feasibility study is expected to cost between US$1 and $1.5 million and the coalition believes that the funding will come from the business community in Missouri. It says the proposed route would connect five million residents to research facilities and businesses, and give the state a new advantage when it comes to luring new businesses and talent.
Hyperloop One has formed partnerships with a number of governments around the world to carry out feasibility studies of this nature. Possible locations include Dubai, Russia, and Finland, while the company also recently concluded its Hyperloop One Global Challenge, an XPrize-style competition setup to identify potential Hyperloop routes.
It is making some promising advances on the technological side of things, too. It has built a full-scale test track and a full-scale prototype capsule, shuttling it along at more than 300 km/h (186 mph). Given the target speed of a fully realized hyperloop is around 1,200 km/h (745 mph), there is clearly still a lot of work to do, but with more and more money pouring in from both public and private sectors the technology is certainly building up some steam.
Source: St Louis Regional Chamber