Missouri may find itself at the epicenter of what people are calling “the future of mass transit”.
The Virgin Hyperloop One project made a stop in Columbia this week to demonstrate how its proposed system would work and displayed a working prototype of one of its pod capsules. Its projected route along I-70, between Kansas City and St. Louis, could make a commute between the two cities just a half an hour long.
For Thomas Yim, the head of video production and photography for Hyperloop One, one of the biggest challenges of this process so far has been moving from a small-time tech startup to a big-time infrastructure project.
“It’s taking engineering from a lot of existing modes and then our engineers have developed brand new magnetic levitation technology that’s much more efficient than anything else that exists in the world today,” said Yim, “So being able to see that up close and personal and witness the technology first-hand has been pretty amazing.”
Hyperloop One’s Head of Marketing and Communications Ryan Kelly says the potential opportunities for Columbia and MU that come with a hyperloop track can provide much more than a quick ride to and from opposite sides of the state.
“I think the opportunity for Columbia and specifically for Mizzou is to potentially be the research epicenter of Hyperloop,” said Kelly, “And so we can imagine if we’re creating a certification track to certify this new mode of transportation globally that we would need a lot of support and engineering, software engineering, et cetera, and so Mizzou could potentially be that hub.”
The company projects that the first working track could be up and operational by 2029.