- Hyperloop Transportation Technologies plans to announce a fully commercial track in 2018.
- The company says a passenger pod will be ready by the summer.
- The firm's CEO says the first passengers could use Hyperloop within three years.
The head of a Hyperloop company said Tuesday he hopes to announce the location of the first commercial track for the technology as early as this year.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn said at the in Davos, Switzerland, that HTT is on the brink of a major announcement.
"This is going to be a busy year. We are expecting to announce the first commercial track this year," he said.
HTT is one of the companies developing Elon Musk's idea for super-fast transportation. The transport system concept envisions propelling pods through tubes using magnets, reaching speeds akin to those of airplanes. Several companies are working to develop the idea.
Ahlborn would not be drawn into revealing many details but conceded that locations in Asia and the Middle East may provide more of an obvious economic solution.
He said the real test of building a Hyperloop is creating fresh safety regulations to cover the new technology. But he added that if those hurdles can be overcome, then he expects public use could happen within three years.
A passenger capsule to run on the Hyperloop track is expected to be complete by the summer, Ahlborn said, adding that the manufacturing process is well underway.
"It should be ready by midyear. It is basically like building an airplane and that takes about a year," he said.
Carbures, a tier two supplier for Boeing and Airbus, is manufacturing the capsule using a new lightweight composite, Ahlborn said. He added that the capsule will be at a usable level when built.
"To be clear, this is not some sort of test pod, this is the sort of capsule that you and I are going to be riding in a little bit."
The HTT chief executive said the capsule will then go to a 3,000-square-meter testing center in Toulose, France, where a full-sized track is being built to work out the best method of levitation.
"Toulouse is going to be a center of excellence. Toulouse is the aerospace valley of Europe, and the network of talent is really important for us," Ahlborn said.