Back in 2012, Tesla and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk outlined his concept for a high-speed transportation system that essentially sees pods rocketing along air cushions through reduced-pressure tubes at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h.
Even at less than maximum speed, it could carry passengers between Toronto and Montreal in under half an hour.
While it may seem like a distant dream, one Canadian company is ready to turn Musk’s vision into a reality. Toronto-based Transpod has already produced an incredibly promising design that its founders hope will become the international standard for Hyperloop transport. Their goal is to build a full model – tube and pod – that can be presented at this fall’s InnoTrans conference in Berlin, which is the world’s largest rail show.
A working prototype is predicted for 2020.
“That’s the takeoff for getting the startup off the ground, and getting some investment,” said Transpod founder Sebastien Gendron. “We want this to be a new time when Canadian achievements are leading the world, kind of like we were with the Canadarm and the Avro Arrow.”
Getting investment will be one of the biggest challenges. Transpod is competing with major players in the transport industry who boast estimated valuations well over $100 million. They’re currently working together with Canada’s aerospace engineering industry and are in active talks with Bombardier. It must be said, though, that Bombardier should probably focus on delivering on those Toronto streetcars before exploring mach speed tube technology.
Perfecting the technology, of course, is just part of the equation. Logistics, bureaucracy and the astronomical cost to build this type of transportation network are all significant hurdles to overcome.