Much ado has been made about a proposed futuristic transportation system that is to take Californians from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back in under 55 minutes, after the company behind the idea said it would begin constructing a test track in 2016.
However, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies' Chief Executive Officer Dirk Ahlborn claims the project, known as Hyperloop, a tube above ground carrying pods at speed up to 950 kilometers per hour in a low pressure environment, is going smoothly so far.
So smooth, he told Xinhua recently, that Hyperloop Transportation Technologies hasn't needed any private funding since he kicked off the company in 2013.
"We are working right now with a team of over 200 people, all of them working in exchange of stock options for Hyperloop, so we aren't actually paying them any money," he said. "At the end of 2015 we are going to raise 100 million U.S. dollars to construct the test track through a public offering, when private companies will be able to bid for the project."
The test track will be about eight kilometers long. However, since the revolutionary transportation system inspired by Paypal's co-founder Elon Musk has not been tried out empirically, critics doubt the project can actually run farther than the test track.
Also, trial tests will not run Hyperloop faster than 321 km per hour, raising doubts weather the final project would be able to meet expectations.
According to Ahlborn, once the test track is completed, developers will be able to figure out design flaws and functional elements. The CEO claimed to have recruited top engineers, some on pro bono basis for now, from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European airplane builder Airbus.
"They are a fully committed team, who believe in the project," he asserted. "It's completely environmentally-friendly and once we test and tweak it, it'll be almost risk-free."
Hyperloop, based in Los Angeles, has partnered with Quay Hays, owner of GROW Land and Water LLC, to develop Quay Valley, a city that will be built out of scratch in Central California. Quay Valley aspires to become the world's first completely sustainable green city, boasting cutting-edge technology powered entirely by solar energy.
Quay Valley is in the same theoretical situation as Hyperloop, since construction has not started yet after the 2008 economic crisis brought plans to a screeching halt. After that, the project was slowed down by a lengthy court trial regarding water rights, which was recently resolved in favor of GROW Land and Water LLC.
For Ahlborn, Quay Valley and the possible San Francisco-Los Angeles link is only the beginning. "We want to see Hyperloop in every city in the world," he said.
Despite all the technology Hyperloop seems to boast, at least theoretically, he cautioned about its limitations, as "you're still gonna have to take a plane to go to another country."