An experimental transportation company, that proposed to carry people at speeds of up to 700mph inside a system of tubes, Hyperloop One has announced its first partnership with a state government.
The company and the Colorado Department of Transportation said they had agreed to study the feasibility of a 360m route that would connect Denver with Pueblo to the south and Cheyenne, Wyo., to the north.
But the joint study will be just the first step in what would be a long process before any of the 4.8 million Colorado residents such a system could serve would see it in action.
Hyperloop One, based in Los Angeles, is one of several start-ups around the world racing to develop the system of tubes, depressurized inside to reduce friction, in order to transport pods carrying commuters.
Tech executives like Tesla’s Elon Musk, who was the idea’s earliest champion, has a separate Hyperloop company, The Boring Company, has claimed that such a system could carry people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes.
Competition to win city and state contracts has been heated. In 2015, another company, Hyperloop Transportation Technology, announced a plan to build a track in Quay Valley, Calif.
Although its technology is still being developed, Hyperloop One, whose first government partnership was a feasibility study with Dubai’s transportation authority, viewed the agreement with Colorado as a strong endorsement.
“This is unprecedented and demonstrates how quickly the public-private sectors can partner to make Hyperloop systems a reality around the world,” Rob Lloyd, Hyperloop One’s Chief Executive, said in a statement.
“Studies like this bring us closer to our goal of implementing three full-scale systems operating by 2021.”
The partnership with Colorado was one of ten proposals the company has picked from a global contest for ideas about where the company may build its first routes. The winners include four paths in the United States, including routes across the Midwest and Texas. Other winners in the challenge that drew thousands of proposals include routes in India, England, Mexico and Canada.
Colorado officials said they were eager to explore the potential of the system to reduce pollution, road congestion and traffic accidents.
“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,” said Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director of the State Transportation Department.