It's not a train, it's not a plane, but it's superfast!

 

If the headline is a bit of a teaser, so is the idea: a plan to shoot "passenger pods" full of seats through a tube that could cut the trip from Vienna to Bratislava, Slovakia to 8 minutes from 1 hour, and from Vienna to Budapest to 26 minutes from  3 hours 45 minutes.

It sounds pretty outer-spacy, but Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has just signed a deal with the Slovakian government to build a system, with the first test flights? trips? set for 2020. The concept is not totally new; it's a bit similar to the vacuum tubes banks used to use within branches.

Hyperloop is not the only company working on similar ideas. That's because the basic concept and some early work on the technology comes from Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla cars and SpaceX rocket programs. Musk left the project open to encourage many companies and others to work on it. This is the first project outside the U.S. to get this far.

And the implications? Just about anywhere could become a suburb of anywhere else, if it's practical on a mass scale. Slovakia's finance minister, Vazil Hudak, says "A transportation system of this kind would redefine the concept of commuting and boost cross-border cooperation in Europe."

Illustration: Camilo Sanchez/Wikimedia

More information from Wired HERE

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