Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, one of two major companies pursuing plans to build hyperloop transportation from Chicago to Ohio, has taken the first steps in bringing the project to life.
The company has signed agreements with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the North Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency to begin working on a feasibility study, which will determine how realistic it is to build a hyperloop that runs from Chicago to Cleveland in as little as 28 minutes, reports TechCrunch. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, based in Culver City, Calif., was founded in 2013 and employs more than 800 people.
“We came here because places like Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh have the manufacturing, the raw materials and the talented, hard working people in order to make it happen,” said HTT Chief Global Operations Officer Andrea La Mendola, in a statement to Forbes. “We can source everything from this area. This is a place where you make big things.”
In December, the NOACA board voted to identify sources that would finance up to $600,000, a sum that would pay for its share of the study.
Representatives from IDOT and NOACA did not return requests for comment as of press time.
The hyperloop concept, first invented by Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, is designed to transport passengers or cargo at very high speeds in capsules or “pods.”
Hyperloop One, a well-funded startup that also develops super-fast transportation technology, has a similar plan for a hyperloop that would connect Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh. It would get riders from Chicago to Columbus in less than 30 minutes, and from Columbus to Pittsburgh in 20 minutes. On Tuesday, the planning group behind the proposal said it would make a major announcement early next week about moving the project forward.
In January, HERE Technologies, a Berlin-based international mapping tech company with a large Chicago presence, announced plans to build a passenger app that simplifies and personalizes hyperloop trip planning, a sign that the project may actually have some traction. It is unclear whether IDOT has been in discussions with Hyperloop One about its proposal.