Elon Musk may build Hyperloop himself, startups be damned – CNET

hyperloop-test-2

A recent test of a prototype Hyperloop.

Hyperloop One

For years, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk denied he would build a Hyperloop — the futuristic frictionless floating tube transportation system he thought up in 2013. (He suggested a San Francisco to Los Angeles route could take just 35 minutes, faster than commuter flights.)

Instead, he opened up the idea to startups — like Hyperloop One, which showed off an actual capsule flying along a tube at 190MPH just a couple of days ago — and assured them that he wouldn’t compete. “We are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves,” reads a message that used to greet visitors to his Hyperloop competition website.

Now CNET understands that Musk has changed his tune: Unsatisfied with the progress of those startups, he now plans to build an entire hyperloop between New York and Washington, D.C. himself.

According to a Bloomberg report Friday, executives at those startups were “shocked” to hear Musk’s announcement in late July that the White House had given his tunnel-digging Boring Company “verbal approval” to build a 29-minute Hyperloop line between New York and Washington. While those execs had hoped Musk merely meant he’d be digging the tunnels and letting startups provide the rest of the infrastructure, Bloomberg cited a source close to Musk who said he plans to build the entire thing.

We can now corroborate Bloomberg’s report. And it doesn’t hurt that Musk’s own Boring Company doesn’t deny it at all.

Here’s the statement we received from a Boring Company spokesperson, which seems to encourage Bloomberg’s finding rather than cast doubt:

Elon published the Hyperloop paper in August 2013 as an open source design, with the hope that others would rapidly bring it to market. He said at the time that he would only seek to commercialize Hyperloop if after a few years other companies were not moving quickly enough. While we’re encouraged that others are making some progress, we would like to accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible. We encourage and support all companies that wish to build Hyperloops and we don’t intend to stop them from using the Hyperloop name as long as they are truthful.

At the Boring Company, we plan to build low cost, fast-to-dig tunnels that will house new high-speed transportation systems. Most will be standard pressurized tunnels with electric skates going 125+ mph. For long distance routes in straight lines, such as NY to DC, it will make sense to use pressurized pods in a depressurized tunnel to allow speeds up to approximately 600+ mph (aka Hyperloop).

Hyperloop One didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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