22 Jul The Future Is Now
Co-founder and executive chairman Hyperloop One
You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful moment for the future to arrive. The late-day sun dipped behind a range of hills, a breeze was picking up, and out in the Nevada desert—30 miles from the Vegas Strip—I was standing behind a chain-link fence looking at the future of transportation.
On the other side of the fence was a 1,500-pound metal sled, a giant aluminum centipede, resting at the start of a 300-meter track. Under the sled and extending down its center for another 57 meters was a thin linear electric motor that, when juiced with power, would shoot the sled down the track. At Hyperloop One, we call this rig the POAT, or propulsion open-air test.
Zero to 60 mph in 1.1 seconds, before stopping in a big plume of dust. I was with a couple of site engineers and we whooped, high-fiving all around, and hugged.
This was my preview of what the world saw this past May: the first working component of the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s bold idea for supersonic travel through near-vacuum tubes. There’s a lot of noise, hope, and hype out there about what the Hyperloop could be and will be, but this metal sled absolutely grounds the idea in much-needed reality.
But what was surreal about the whole thing is how far we’ve come so quickly. Hyperloop One is now a team of 150 people in downtown Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but we were a handful of people less than two years ago.
We’re living in an incredible window of time in human history, when teams of entrepreneurs and engineers can dream big and execute on their vision at an unprecedented scale. Private companies are now doing the things that nations used to do.
There’s something about the idea of the Hyperloop that captures the imagination. The benefits of Hyperloop are clear: efficient, on-demand, safe, green, and, of course, fast travel. But the idea of being on the ground floor of the next mode of transportation goes beyond the delivery of those values. We’ve had PhDs quit their jobs, pull up roots, and come join our team because they want to make it happen.
There’s a quote from Theodore Roosevelt I had on my wall when I was in high school and college. I read it aloud to the more than 100 guests, investors, and press we invited out to the desert to witness this historic moment and dedicated it to the team.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Innovation, dedication, and hard work are how we will create a more sustainable future—and that future is now.