Hyperloop One Just Released 11 Possible Routes for Its Futuristic Transport System

Hyperloop One is seriously considering building its high-speed transit system in several states in the United States.

The Los Angeles-based startup held a two-day event in Washington DC this week to showcase its “Vision in America.” The event served two purposes: one, to evaluate eleven US route proposals for the high-speed transit system, and two, to meet with federal regulators in Washington about getting the system up and running.

“We’re trying to position Hyperloop as one of the best candidates that there are for re-inventing infrastructure in America,” Nick Earle, Hyperloop One’s senior vice president for global operations, told Business Insider. “It’s built in America, it can be implemented in America, it’s made in America…there are a lot of reasons why it fits with the national agenda right now.”

The event shows Hyperloop One is trying to get ahead of the regulatory curve before it even proves the technology.

hyperloop one nevada rail
Hyperloop One

The startup plans to launch a public trial, which Earle refers to as the company’s “Kitty Hawk moment,” on its two-mile development track in Nevada by the end of June. But a company has yet to prove the system Tesla CEO Elon Musk outlined in a White Paper in 2013.

Earlier this year, Hyperloop One launched a global challenge to crowdsource route proposals for a Hyperloop system in the US. After receiving over 2,600 submissions, the startup selected eleven finalists to present their vision in DC.

Hyperloop One says it will ultimately select two or three routes to study further. Scroll down for a look at all the routes under consideration:

1. Hyperloop Massachussetts

1. Hyperloop Massachussetts
Hyperloop One

Led by Holly McNamara, selectman of the town of Somerset, the team proposes using a Hyperloop to connect Boston and Providence with stops at Somerset and Fall River. The Hyperloop would run for 64 miles.

The goal is to build an elevated system that shares highways and rail right-of-ways with connections to the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak’s most popular rail line that runs between Washington D.C. and Boston.

2. Team Rocky Mountain Hyperloop Consortium

2. Team Rocky Mountain Hyperloop Consortium
Hyperloop One

The team is led by John Whitcomb, a member of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society. It proposed a long, 1,152-mile route between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Houston, Texas with stops in Denver, Dallas, and Forth Worth.

3. Team Hyperloop Missouri

3. Team Hyperloop Missouri
Hyperloop One

The team is composed of Missouri’s Department of Transportation and is led by Thomas Blair, the department’s assistant district engineer, highlighting some state support for the project. The 240-mile route between Kansas and St. Louis would stop in Columbia.

4. Team Hyperloop Florida

4. Team Hyperloop Florida
Hyperloop One

The team is led by Alice Bravo, director of transportation development in Miami, highlighting similar state support to Team Missouri. The 257-mile system would transport passengers and cargo and run parallel to Highway 27 and I-4.

5. Team Hyperloop West

5. Team Hyperloop West
Hyperloop One

The team is comprised of architects, designers, and faculty members from Woodbury University and San Diego State University. The 121-mile system would transport cargo and passengers and make no stops in-between.

6. Team Hyperloop Nevada

6. Team Hyperloop Nevada
Hyperloop One

The team is led by Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and includes support from the state’s Department of Transportation. The 454-mile sytem would carry freight and passengers and run along I-11.

7. Team Hyperloop Midwest

7. Team Hyperloop Midwest
Hyperloop One

The 488-mile system would carry passengers and cargo between Pittsburgh and Chicago with a stop in Columbus. The team is led by Thea Walsh, director of transportation systems and funding for mid-Ohio regional planning.

8. Team PNW Hyperloop

8. Team PNW Hyperloop
Hyperloop One

The team is led by University of Washington students and proposes first carrying cargo along the 173-mile route before including passengers.

9. Team Rocky Mountain Hyperloop

9. Team Rocky Mountain Hyperloop
Hyperloop One

Comprised of members of the Colorado Department of Transportation and engineering firm AECOM, the team boasts having partnerships with the Denver International Airport, the City of Denver, and the City of Greeley.

The first phase of the project would connect Denver International Airport to Greeley and would eventually expand into a 360-mile system.

10. Team Colorado Hyperloop

10. Team Colorado Hyperloop
Hyperloop One

This is the third route proposal to pass through Denver, Colorado. This team is lead by Blake Anneberg, a self-proclaimed tech enthusiast. The first phase of the 242-mile project would run between Denver and Colorado Springs or Denver and Fort Collins before expanding to other cities.

11. Team Hyperloop Texas

11. Team Hyperloop Texas
Hyperloop One

The team was created by engineering firm AECOM and led by Steven Duong, an AECOM urban designer. The 640-mile system would connect all the major cities in Texas and carry passengers and cargo. The route would follow I-35 and I-10.

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Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? Elon Musk Thinks So.

Simulation Hypothesis

While many people take reality at face value, others believe the far more intriguing theory that we are living in a computer simulation. It’s a concept straight out of “The Matrix” (though its origin reaches much further back), and one of its supporters is Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

10 Things About the Future Sci-Fi Writers Got Right
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During an interview at Code Conference 2016, Musk said, “There’s a one in billions chance we’re in base reality.” This essentially means that he believes that more likely than not (by a lot), the world that we know is just a very sophisticated computer simulation. Neil deGrasse Tyson feels similarly, putting our odds of living in a simulation at around 50/50.

Musk elaborated on the idea during the interview:

The strongest argument for us being in a simulation, probably being in a simulation, is the following: 40 years ago, we had Pong, two rectangles and a dot…That is what games were. Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, augmented reality. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, the games will become indistinguishable from reality.

The contemporary version of the simulation hypothesis was introduced by Nicholas Bostrom, a British philosopher, in 2003. Simply put, the hypothesis states that there is a likelihood that advanced future civilizations would run equally advanced computer simulations of past civilizations. So, much like we play video games about ancient populations, they might do something similar, just much more technologically advanced. Some people even think that the events of the 2017 Oscars are proof of this theory.

The Matrix…Unraveled

While the idea of a simulated universe was officially described by Bostrom and recently brought to headlines by Musk and Tyson, it is not a new idea. This concept has been around for decades, and if you count its predecessor, the idea that everything around you is just a dream, the concept is much, much older than that.

However, even though the idea is old and debated heavily by both scientists and philosophers, it might not hold much actual weight.

For starters, a simulation is, by definition, an “imitation of a situation or process.” And so, if we were living in a simulation, how would we exist and interact with our physical world as we know it? Unless our physical interactions with food, humans, air, and the like are all elaborate programs to trick the brain in every which way to perceive the physical as such, the concept in and of itself is inherently flawed. Once a “simulated” object becomes physical, then does it, conceptually, stop being a simulation?

Another argument against the notion of a simulated reality is the limitations of computing. No matter how powerful quantum computers grow to be over the years, decades, and centuries, using them to create a real physical world, or “simulation,” might still be a technological impossibility. Unless information technology is radically and rapidly changed, it just might never be possible.

Essentially, unless life as we know it completely changes and the way that computers operate is turned on its head, the only way that the type of simulation Musk is talking about would be possible is through some higher level of reality. Some even argue that, because human beings aren’t expected to survive on planet Earth for that much longer (relatively speaking), a civilization could never advance to the point that such a simulation would be possible.

Ultimately, there is no definitive evidence confirming either side of this theory. There are possibilities, and within each possibility, there are scientific limitations.

If Musk and his fellow believers turn out to be correct, there could be multiple existing levels of reality and parallel technologies that we could somehow learn about one day. But, then there’s the equally plausible chance that there is one base reality, and we’re living in it. If this is the actual universe (or part of the Multiverse, but that’s another conversation entirely), then all of the scientific principles that we know of apply, which means a simulated universe would be an impossibility.

Again, neither is known for sure, so unless new information surfaces, you’ll probably want to assume what you see in life is what you get.

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New Sci-Fi Short Depicts the Dark Side of Living in Augmented Reality

Many of us are anxious for augmented reality to live up to the potential promised by sci-fi. We’re waiting for the next bit of news from Magic Leap or keeping tabs on how Microsoft’s HoloLens is transforming careers right before our eyes.

7 Incredibly Ambitious Virtual Reality Projects
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Strange Beasts,” a short film depicting our future with the new technology, shares a vision of a far different, less optimistic world intwined with augmented reality.

In the film, we are introduced to Victor, a man promoting a new augmented reality video game that enables players to grow a creature of their choosing to be their home companion. He expresses how users should be a part of the story, asserting that today’s media doesn’t offer the deeper interactions that can be found in AR. As the story progresses, we’re introduced to Victor’s daughter, Anna, who has a companion of her own, “Blooby.” By that point, the dystopian tone of the film is in full effect.

Magali Barbe, the writer and director of the short film, explains her process on her personal blog. She had the idea for the film in early 2016, initially hoping to catch audiences by surprise with hoax video about AR. After doing her research, she decided to transition the project into a narrative, and a short while (and a lot of hard work) later, “Strange Beasts” reached its final form.

The clip definitely compels its audience to think about the potential realities of living in a world that’s not 100 percent “real.” With AR tech progressing at a steady rate, we aren’t many years away from finding out whether the future turns out more like our most optimistic imaginings or the world envisioned in “Strange Beasts.”

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How Much Does Your Consciousness Weigh?

The latest Because Science video takes on the challenge of quantifying consciousness in honor of the new Ghost in the Shell movie. At its most fundamental level, being conscious means being awake and able to process information. The confusing part about consciousness is that it “feels” to us like it exists in our heads, but inside the skull is the brain, and nothing more. Consciousness is also more complex for humans when compared to any other living creature. So where is consciousness located?

Reprogramming the Human Mind: Here’s How We’ll Make Humanity 2.0 [INFOGRAPHIC]
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The idea that Ghost in the Shell gives us is that downloading consciousness into a robotic body allows us to compare the weight of a human body with and without its ghost, or consciousness. Does the brain simply contain data that expresses human consciousness that can itself be quantified? Or is consciousness inextricable from the brain, simply our subjective experience of having a prefrontal cortex?

If we are nothing more than our consciousness, then we are made up of signals moving between neurons. If we can master the technology to change the storage system for those signals and the data they’re sending, the mass of the ghost could change; would its character? In the video, the host (Kyle) says that estimates for how much data your brain holds range from one terabyte to one petabyte. He goes on to explore calculating the weight of your consciousness—and that of every single human on earth—and arrives at a surprising conclusion.

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When You Play Mass Effect, You’re Playing With Dark Matter

Whether you’ve played it or not, you might have heard of the Mass Effect series. The series features a space odyssey through which users can play as characters who can control mass effect fields, giving them some extraordinary powers.

Taking a deeper look at these powers, it’s interesting to note that they may be derived from dark matter, something that makes up 23% of the universe. It’s theorized that dark matter is invisible because it doesn’t interact with the electromagnetic spectrum. And although the LHC has yet to conclusively detect dark matter, we know that dark matter exists because the spins of galaxies are affected by something much stronger than visible matter.

In the Mass Effect series, some lifeforms have biotic abilities, meaning they can manifest mass effect fields and manipulate their environment. Characters can warp, pull, slam, lift, and charge, among other abilities. As shown in the Nerdist video, each ability involves a precise manipulation of dark matter while falling within the limitations of physics.

What Is Dark Matter?
Click to View Full Infographic

While there is no real evidence that we may one day be able to shape our environment with the help of dark matter, it is interesting to note that one of the largest science fiction video game franchises may not be too far off in their premise.

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Live out Your Jedi Master Dreams by Making a Real-Life Lightsaber

Allen from YouTube’s Sufficiently Advanced is an engineer who has recreated some of the most nostalgic moments of your childhood, including Zelda’s Ocarina of Time and Harry Potter’s wizard duels, he’s worked hard to turn our favorite fiction into non-fiction.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, Allen has got an early birthday present for you—and it’s your own lightsaber.

Okay, to be fair, it doesn’t look anything like the iconic sci-fi weapon that we see on screen, but it is currently the closest thing to that we have to it. The video outlines a step-by-step process detailing how you can make your own lightsaber with some electrical engineering. A simple, plastic toy lightsaber handle adds sounds and makes it easier for users to power their lightsaber. The YouTuber added boric acid to his fuel source to make Luke Skywalker’s emerald green blade come to life.

Star Wars Starfighters: The Best Designs From a Galaxy Far, Far Away
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While this technology involves a few complex electrical components, it seems that determined superfans anywhere can create an homage to their favorite movie.

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Top U.S. Military Official Says We Need to Prepare for Space Battles

Deflector Shields Up

Whenever you hear about space battles, your mind might go straight to Star Wars, Star Trek, or Battlestar Galactica, where such intergalactic battles are merely works of science fiction. But according to a top-ranking U.S. military officer, it may behoove the United States to ready itself for out-of-this-world warfare.

Star Wars Starfighters: The Best Designs From a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Click to View Full Infographic

Speaking at a conference by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., Navy Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard argued for the necessity of a “preparation without provocation” strategy that the U.S. must adopt to keep space a safe place, and to protect American assets that have taken up residence there. His full talk can be viewed here.

“Just as nuclear assets deter aggression by convincing potential adversaries there’s just no benefit to the attack, we have to maintain a space posture that communicates the same strategic message,” said Vice Adm. Richard, who happens to be the deputy commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

No Longer a Benign Domain

Vice Adm. Richard isn’t being facetious; on the contrary, he’s serious about ensuring the U.S. is able to fight space battles as a measure for keeping peace beyond our planet. “I submit [that] the best way to prevent war is to be prepared for war, and we’re going to make sure that everyone knows we’re going to be prepared to fight and win wars in all domains, to include space,” he said.

“While we view space as just another domain — like land, air, sea and cyber — it is still something special. It is still a domain that people look up to and dream. And it’s USSTRATCOM’s job to help keep it that way.” 

Vice Adm. Richard went on to suggest that space is no longer the “benign environment” it once was.

As today’s technological advances make us capable of extending our reach into worlds beyond ours, defense against what we may find there becomes even more necessary. “Our goal ultimately is to promote secure access to space so it can be explored for generations to come,” Richard explained. And with great technology comes an even greater responsibility — as we know from all those superhero movies.

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Where Will Space Tech Take Us by 2030?

Space technologies will one day take us to asteroids, Mars and back to the moon, and the impact of these missions will be felt back on Earth, says George Whitesides, Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Galactic and co-chair of the Global Future Council on Space Technologies. In this interview, he explains how the latest developments in space technologies will help bring about revolutions in wifi access, travel and beyond.

What is the State of Space Technology Today?

We are at an exciting moment. What we see are several converging trends that will change how we approach space technologies, at a rate of innovation that we haven’t seen in a long time.

Invaders From Earth!: How Elon Musk Plans to Conquer Mars
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The power of miniaturization, for example, is having a huge impact on satellites. It’s becoming easier to put more capabilities into smaller packages. Constellations of small satellites are allowing for both new capabilities as well as existing capabilities at much lower costs.

The exploration of space is also becoming global. More nations are now within reach of space than ever before, while the influx of entrepreneurial capital is driving innovation and new technologies in the private sector.

What excites me most about space technologies is that it’s an opportunity for us to put the best of humanity forward into the future. It enables international cooperation, courage, boldness and entrepreneurship. We are doing things for the benefit for the planet.

We live on the spaceship Earth. Space technologies help us understand our mothership. The climate, peace and security, energy issues: these are all things space technologies can play a key role in.

How Will Your Global Future Council Be Contributing to the Conversation?

We have a very impressive group of people from around the globe and a diversity of professions.

We will certainly want to look at how we make space exploration sustainable, for business, government and science. We need to ensure the long-term sustainability of the space environment. It’s particularly important now with so many new actors coming into the field.

We will also be looking at how we should react to trends such as space property rights and space debris.

What Are the Challenges for Sustainability in Space?

The issue of sustainability in space is really crucial. When we talk about sustainability in space, there are a variety of issues.

There is no nationally owned sector of space. It’s all shared, so the responsibility is global. This is the same thing here on Earth, when you look at international waters. The pollution in our waters is an international problem. In space, we have a growing amount of debris that comes from old satellites, launch vehicle stages, collisions and so on. It is very hard to clean up areas of space that have been filled with debris.

Radio frequency is another shared resource which is actually being handled rather well right now, but it will continue to be something we need to pay attention to.


Steve Jurvetson/Flickr

What Other Key Trends Should We Be Aware Of?

A lot of people are looking at launch vehicles and reusability. Right now we don’t use space launch vehicles very efficiently. Imagine if we threw away an airplane after every flight. That’s how space flight works today. These are amazing, precision engineered vehicles and we essentially throw them away after one use. The prospect of getting better reusable vehicles could reduce costs substantially and have a dramatic impact on increasing space access.

Small vehicles are also showing enormous potential. Those are being tailored to smaller satellites. This all leads to what we call “disaggregation”, or the idea that you can accomplish certain goals in space technologies in multiple small units rather than in a single large one. GPS is a good example of this.

Multiple small satellites also reduce the chance of failure. By simple numbers, if one satellite goes down, the system is not significantly affected as a whole.

Many companies are seeking to provide global communications and broadband via space, and this approach to constellations of small satellites is going to help make that possible.

Where Do You Think We’ll Be by 2030?

The perspective of space is truly important to the future of our planet. Before we can act on any particular policy, it is helpful to shift our worldview to a planetary perspective. It’s a crucial element in solving the challenges facing us.

You’ll see vehicles taking people into space, but also on high-speed journeys around the planet. We might be making our first human journeys to Mars, to an asteroid and possibly a return to the moon.

Back here on Earth we will see benefits ranging from a better understanding of the climate to ubiquitous broadband. Global access to broadband would bring billions into the global economy, spurring development.

Space science will continue to make great advances. Finding new planets around other stars, perhaps showing signs of organic material, and also identifying other resources in our solar system are very possible. Perhaps, by then, we may even have found signs of actual life outside our planet.

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