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Miami to Orlando in a mere 26 minutes? If only you could jump into a tube and be whisked to the Land of the Mouse at up to 700 mph.
The race to the future is on to develop this emerging tube-transit technology, dubbed hyperloop by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk who envisioned the technology. Now a team led by Miami-Dade officials is a competitor among regions vying to potentially be among some of the world’s first hyperloop routes, if the technology becomes a commercial reality.
The team from transit-challenged Florida entered its proposal for a Miami-to-Orlando route into a global challenge issued by Hyperloop One, one of the private companies trying to bring the technology to market. On Thursday, the route was selected as one of 10 global winners of the challenge, which means Hyperloop One will commit “meaningful business and engineering resources” to the team and work closely with the team members to determine and prove commercial feasibility of a Miami-to-Orlando route.
“We had tremendous interest in this competition, and these ten teams each had their unique strengths in showcasing how they will alleviate serious transportation issues in their regions,” said Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, based in Los Angeles.
The Hyperloop One Global Challenge kicked off in May 2016 as an open call to individuals, universities, companies and governments for proposals for deploying Hyperloop One’s transportation technology in their regions. The Florida team was one of 38 semi-finalists named in April.
Alice Bravo, Miami-Dade County’s transit director, said at the time that the Miami-to-Orlando route could be a huge boon for moving tourists as well as freight from the busy PortMiami. State and local officials are involved in the proposal.
And it could be just the start, as the Florida hyperloop could be extended to Atlanta and then Chicago in later stages. “We think this is a corridor that could serve as a national stimulus for this area of innovation and human capital intellect,” Bravo told The Verge in April.
Last week the 10 winners were chosen based on specific criteria including “well-defined routes and implementation strategies, key stakeholder involvement from public and private sectors, compelling business cases, and innovative and creative applications of a hyperloop system,” Hyperloop One said.
Under Hyperloop One’s vision, passengers and cargo are loaded into a pod, and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. Think huge tubes that stretch over the landscape to blast people-filled pods over the earth at airline speeds. The pods will be pulled by magnets to levitate within the tube. And the pods could have windows with augmented-reality capabilities.
Think huge tubes that stretch over the landscape to blast people-filled pods over the earth at airline speeds.
Hyperloop technology was proposed by Musk, who founded Tesla and SpaceX, in a white paper he wrote in 2013. A number of startup companies have sprung up to attempt to commercialize the technology, including Hyperloop One. Musk has one also, called The Boring Company.
In July, Hyperloop One engineers successfully propelled a pod along a 1/3 mile stretch of Nevada test track in vacuum-sealed, above-ground tubing at 192 mph.
The 10 winning routes, spanning 4,121 miles, connect 53 urban centers and nearly 150 million people. In addition to the Miami-to-Orlando route, they are Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo; Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh; and Dallas-Houston in the U.S.; Toronto-Montreal in Canada; Edinburgh-London and Glasgow-Liverpool in the United Kingdom; Mexico City-Guadalajara in Mexico; and Bengaluru-Chennai and Mumbai-Chennai in India.
Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.