My family took a road trip from our home in Denver to Phoenix in December to visit my grandparents, and along the way, my dad and I kept talking about how we wished we had a hyperloop between Denver and Phoenix so that we could get there faster, as opposed to the 13 hour drive we were in the midst of.
The hyperloop idea has been around since 1909, originating with designs from the scientist Robert Goddard. It takes a vacuum where friction is eliminated and zips a train-like vehicle through the vacuum tube at high speeds. In 1909, it seemed like a crazy person who thought they understood physics but didn’t really. But 5 years ago, real prototypes began to appear for a real hyperloop.
In theory, hyperloops can travel up to 760 miles per hour, but the average speed would be around 600 mph. That’s crazy fast, meaning that someone could get from New York to Los Angeles in something like 4 hours (it currently takes 7 hours on a plane or 48 hours in a car). And our trip to Phoenix that took 13 hours? Yeah, that’d be down to just over 1 hour.
Until about a year and a half ago, this still seemed like an unrealistic possibility. But recent breakthroughs have shown that the technology is there and working. And last year, a company called Hyperloop One (which is furthest along with its technology) revealed 10 routes that will feature hyperloops, the first 3 opening in 2021.
I’m very excited about this, because one of those routes is going to be in Colorado, running along the Front Range from Cheyenne to Pueblo, with another route going from Denver to Vail. It will soon be a faster commute from Colorado Springs to Denver than from my house to Downtown.
It’s time to stop looking at some of these futuristic sounding ideas, like the hyperloop, as unrealistic, utopian dreams, and instead as the near future. Zipping across the country in a tube might seem frightening. But, in the end, this will allow the world to be even more connected than ever before. We won’t need planes or truckers to get things from point A to point B. 100 years ago, cars were a revolutionary, fast way to move around. It’s this century’s turn to speed us up a little more.