By Fred Lambert

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company announced that it is starting testing on its first full-scale high-speed Hyperloop transportation system.

The company might fulfill Musk’s vision for a new mode of transportation 10 years after unveiling it. But there have been some changes to the spec…

Back in 2013, Elon Musk released a white paper describing what he called the “Hyperloop,” a new mode of transportation consisting of building a near-hard vacuum environment in a tunnel or tube in order to move electric vehicles at high speeds more efficiently inside of them.

At the time, Musk put the idea out there and encouraged other businesses to run with it. Several companies were founded around the idea, but almost a decade later, there are still no commercial applications of the system – though there are a few prototypes out there.

Musk later founded The Boring Company (TBC) to improve tunnel boring technology in order to help reduce traffic.

The main applications of TBC’s tunnels have been “Loops,” which are similar to the Hyperloop without the low-pressure environment. The company is focusing on developing loops under cities, like its first commercial application in Las Vegas, but it has also been working on some proposals for Hyperloop systems to connect cities over longer distances.

After years of focusing on the more simple tunnel-based Loop concept, The Boring Company announced earlier this year that it plans to start testing its own Hyperloop system later this year.

The announcement was made after the company secured a massive $675 million round of funding and at the same time news broke that the Los Angeles Hyperloop test track was removed. 

Now The Boring Company announced over the weekend that it has started testing on its first “full-scale Hyperloop”:

There’s definitely a Loop in this rendering but the hyper piece may derive from “hype” rather than speed. 

The company didn’t confirm where this new Hyperloop test tube is located, but it looks like it could be in Texas based on the sky in those pictures. The Boring Company has a piece of land near Austin, where it is conducting some testing.

On its website under the “Hyperloop” project, the company still refers to “the 0.8 mile Hyperloop Test Track, or Hypertube” constructed by SpaceX in Hawthorne, but this is clearly not that as it fits a full-size car unlike the test track for the SpaceX hyperloop student competition.

Hype or Hyper?

Speaking of full-size cars, The Boring Company is putting a Tesla vehicle in the tube in those pictures, which is interesting considering the Hyperloop was originally expected to require special pressurized vehicles in order to work in a near-vacuum environment. With a Tesla at normal atmospheric pressure, it is just an underground highway. 

The startup doesn’t mention a low-pressure environment in its description of the Hyperloop on its website:

Hyperloop is an ultra-high-speed public transportation system in which passengers travel in autonomous electric pods at 600+ miles per hour. Boring Company tunnels support both Loop and Hyperloop systems.

The Boring Company has confirmed that it is currently working with “various local governments and private stakeholders” about developing hyperloop systems.

Electrek’s Take

Critics have often said that the whole idea for the Hyperloop was to “derail” California’s plans for high speed trains. I don’t necessarily buy that. 

But I also don’t understand the density of commuters calculation when you compare a train/subway with “Teslas in a tube.” I can’t make it make sense. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think underground tubes for transportation make a ton of sense, pulling cars off the surface of the earth. If The Boring Company can make strides there, I’m all for it. But compare a high speed autonomous subway (which already exists in monorail form in Las Vegas) with the Las Vegas Loop with paid drivers driving Teslas, and it just doesn’t make sense.