The track will be built around Quay Valley, a proposed 75,000-resident solar-powered community halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Hyperloop Transportation says it will start surveying the land in a couple weeks, with principal construction set to begin in the middle of 2016.
“After over two and a half years of research and development our team has reached another important milestone. This will be the world’s first passenger-ready Hyperloop system,” said Dirk Ahlborn, the company’s CEO, in a statement. “Everyone traveling on California’s I-5 in 2016 will be able to see our activities from the freeway.”
The news comes amid a flurry of Hyperloop activity. Next week, SpaceX will kick off its two-day pod design competition at Texas A&M University, where hundreds of high school and college students will submit their designs in the hopes of winning the $50,000 prize — and a chance to work with SpaceX and Hyperloop Technologies, the other LA-based startup, on making their designs a reality. Ahlborn’s Hyperloop Transportation is not sponsoring the competition, but is supporting some of the design teams.
Both Hyperloop companies, as well as SpaceX, are racing to build the world’s first working prototype. According to the design popularized by Elon Musk in 2013, a Hyperloop pod containing either passengers or cargo could travel up to 760 mph through an elevated, airless, and frictionless tube between cities. Theoretically, travel between San Francisco and LA could take 30 minutes.
Hyperloop Transportation argues its fundamentally different from Hyperloop Technologies and SpaceX because it operates on a volunteer and crowdsourcing platform. The company says it has talent from NASA, Boeing, Tesla, and SpaceX working among its 480-plus volunteers.
In building its test track, Hyperloop Transportation will test the soil around Quay Valley to determine the best locations for the pylons to support the tube. Once that’s finished, the company will map the terrain with drones to mark the corridor, pylon positions, and station location. The mapping is needed to calculate both the horizontal and vertical alignments required as part of the building permit.
Last month, Hyperloop Technologies announced it had acquired 50 acres of land in North Las Vegas on which to construct its own test track.