Hyper Speed

Transportation in the U.S. accounts for 10% of domestic GDP and accounts for ~40% of national commerce. One company that is aiming to disrupt and redefine short-distance travel is Elon Musk-inspired Hyperloop One. With the ultimate goal of transporting people faster than by plane, Hyperloop will first focus to ship cargo at ultra-high speed.

After Elon Musk famously unveiled his idea for Hyperloop in 2013, Shervin Pishevar (angel investor in Uber) and Brogan BamBrogan (early employee at SpaceX) decided to take upon the challenge, and founded the company that would transform Musk’s idea into reality. Last summer, they brought in former Cisco President Rob Lloyd as their CEO, and stroke global deals with Aecom, Amberg Group, Deutsche Bahn, Bjarke Ingels Group, Cargo Sous Terrain, FS Links, Grid, KPMG, and Systra.

Last week, new documents obtained by media outlets showed that Hyperloop’s top projects include a 107-mile loop around the Bay Area that is expected to cost between $9 and $13 billion. The track will be a mix of underground tunnel and elevated track. Two other priority projects include a 93-mile route connecting Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which is projected to cost $4.8 billion, and one connecting Helsinki and Stockholm, projected at $19 billion.

Hyperloop One Model

If successfully applied, these travel routes will have very positive impact on travel and public transportation. Think of the Bay Area, where traffic has become a huge burden to nature and society, and imagine taking the Loop from SF to SJ in just 10 minutes. Not only will people leave their cars, but they’ll be able to have back-to-back meetings in San Fran and San Jose, only minutes apart…

Other logical routes for Hyperloop include Paris-London, NYC-Washington, LA-San Jose, Rio-Sao Paulo, Munich-Frankfurt, etc.

But building the infrastructure will be very costly. To date, Hyperloop has raised $141 million, and it has yet to publicly announce a specific project. According to reports, the company is now looking to raise a fresh $250 million as estimates of project cost are greatly exceeding previous projections.

While it is still early to foresee when Hyperloop will be functional, the progress to date is impressive, and the investors’ confidence seems high. And with Elon Musk as the mastermind behind it, Hyperloop One is one to watch very closely.

Also looking at the future of transportation, Uber revealed in a blog post that it plans to use a network of small electric aircrafts that will take off and land vertically — so-called VTOL aircrafts (vertical take-off and landing). The post details possible routes with pricing comparisons, and also elaborates on the certification process, on vehicle performance and efficiency, and on air traffic control issues.

Another company that is working on this type of transportation is Chinese drone-maker Ehang. Earlier this year, it unveiled the Ehang 184, an autonomous quadcopter that can carry a single passenger for up to 23 minutes of battery time…or about a 25 mile distance.

Ehang 184 above San Francisco

We are living in exciting times. A rise in innovation is driving increased investments in autonomous driving technology, and in new projects as those described above. Transportation as we know it might be changing faster than anyone expects.

As published in this week’s A 2 Apple: http://www.a2apple.com/born-to-run/

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