The company behind the Hyperloop, the transport system dreamed up by Elon Musk, has revealed it is closing its doors and laying off its workers this week.
Hyperloop One’s aim was to commercialise an idea of Elon Musk’s, a system that aimed to propel pods full of passengers at speeds of up to 760 miles an hour.
But it will lay off all its workers and sell its assets off by the end of the year, reports said.
The company, based off a white paper published by Elon Musk in 2012, failed to get any contracts to set up Hyperloop systems, despite a major, but brief, hype around what the Tesla CEO said at the time would’ve been a ‘fifth mode of transport.’
Musk said in his 2012 white paper that a hyperloop would have been ‘the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1,500km or 900 miles apart.’
”How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory — doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars — would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world,’ he asked at the time.
Hyperloop One said the system would’ve offered better safety than passenger jets, lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed trains, and energy usage, per person, that is similar to a bicycle.
There were also plans to integrate Hyperloop with autonomous cars, which would’ve been loaded onto pods to be whisked away to far-off destinations.
‘A self-driving Uber would be able to go inside the hyperloop and come out the other side,’ global field operations senior vice president Nick Earle said in 2017.
‘It’s like broadband internet for transportation’ with self-driving vehicles carrying cargo or people in a real-world spin on data packets being taken quickly from one point to another over the internet, he maintained.
There were plans to set up Hyperloops in the UK, with four lines, London to Edinburgh, Liverpool to Hull, Glasgow to Cardiff or a ‘Northern Arc’ across a series of northern cities, being considered in 2017.
The London-Edinburgh scheme was led by an Edinburgh University team that had plans to take the route via Birmingham and Manchester.
If selected, it would’ve meant travelling between the two capital cities would’ve taken just 45 minutes, and the journey from London to Manchester would’ve taken only 18 minutes.
But in 2022, it had shifted its priority from transporting people to transporting cargo.