Hyperloop One has announced 10 winning submissions in a long-running contest to find what it believes to be the best places to build the first hyperloop tracks in the world. Ten teams across five countries (Mexico, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada) were picked from the original 2,600 submissions, and the routes range in size from about 200 to nearly 700 miles, depending on the location.
In addition to the winners, Hyperloop One announced that it’s performing a feasibility study with the Colorado Department of Transportation that “examines transportation demand, economic benefits, proposed routes and potential strategies, regulatory environments and alignment with overall CDOT high-speed travel, rail and freight plans,” according to the company’s press release.
“We are excited to partner with Hyperloop One in exploring the next step of feasibility of this innovative technology, potentially transforming how Colorado moves,” Shailen Bhatt, the executive director of CDOT said in a statement. “The Hyperloop technology could directly align with our goals of improving mobility and safety in Colorado, and we have been encouraged by the continued progress the technology is taking.”
Hyperloop One has previously started or performed feasibility studies in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Moscow, Los Angeles, the UK, as well as Finland and Sweden, where the company found that a 300-mile hyperloop between Helsinki and Stockholm would cost about $21 billion. At the same time, it’s continued to prove out the basic hyperloop technologies. Earlier this summer, the company performed a full-scale test in the Nevada desert in which the hyperloop pod reached almost 200 miles per hour.
And while hyperloops might still sound like a dreamy transportation idea, the contest winners weren’t just submitting to a design exercise. The teams had some real backing from the sorts of investors and regulatory bodies you’d expect would need to be involved in a project like this. The team that designed the Chicago / Columbus / Pittsburgh proposal, for example, was supported by the Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Columbus Airport Authority, and more.
Also, five of the 10 winning teams were supported by global engineering firm AECOM. Hyperloop One says it will “commit meaningful business and engineering resources and work closely with each of the winning teams/routes to determine their commercial viability.”
Of course, the involvement of regulatory bodies and planning departments is nothing new when it comes to hyperloop proposals. Many city officials (and dwellers) around the world want to believe so badly that a hyperloop could solve their sometimes massive local transportation problems that they’re willing to stay extremely close to these ongoing projects and thought experiments because they don’t require a significant financial investment — yet.