North Texas to Laredo in less than an hour? It sounds like the stuff of science fiction. But the creators of Virgin Hyperloop One insist it's a very real possibility.
Starting Thursday, the DFW community can catch a glimpse of this new technology right in their own backyard. The company is bringing the hyperloop's XP-1 pod to AT&T Stadium, where it will be displayed through Saturday.
The pod, which can reach speeds of nearly 700 mph, is the vehicle that passengers will ride in through a vacuum-sealed tube.
Virgin Hyperloop One has been testing the technology at a site in the Nevada desert.
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"When government and investor delegations come to our test site, seeing the technology makes it real for them," Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder said in a release. "Not everyone can come to the Nevada desert, so we’re bringing our technology to the people."
The company is bringing the pod to Arlington with the help of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, a regional entity that steers policy and government funds for transportation projects across North Texas.
NCTCOG Transportation Director Michael Morris says the Virgin Hyperloop One is of particular interest to them.
"If you were in my shoes, sitting on 7.5 million people, soon 12 million people -- remember we're growing at about a million people a decade -- you're gonna want to use every tool in the toolbox," Morris said. "And for this technology to come along, I wouldn't want to be somebody who didn't take it seriously."
Morris and other local leaders have visited the Nevada test site -- and have taken two trips to Virgin Hyperloop One's headquarters in Los Angeles to learn more about the technology.
He says NCTCOG has a feasibility study underway to see if the hyperloop would be viable in North Texas. And they're already looking at potential alignments that would connect Fort Worth, Arlington, and Dallas.
"We're hoping that high-speed rail comes into Downtown Dallas -- and we either extend that technology to Arlington and Fort Worth or we look at hyperloop technology to get to Arlington and Fort Worth," Morris said. "What's critical to us is we've got to get a gateway into DFW International Airport from this high-speed rail technology -- and that's the Arlington station -- either through high speed rail or through the hyperloop technology."
He says they've also started talking to other regions of the state to gauge their interest in one day extending hyperloop or high-speed rail from North Texas all the way down to Laredo.
"This technology is less than ten years away," Morris said. "Lots of conversations will be occurring this week with regard to the company business elements as we continue to explore this interest."
Members of the public can see the XP-1 pod display as part of the regular AT&T Stadium tour. Ticket information can be found by visiting the stadium's website.
The company is also bringing in several school groups to visit the display, so they can experience it as well.