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Gaming Guru

Sandra Chereb
 

High-speed transportation testing site coming to North Las Vegas

9 December 2015

A futuristic transportation company said Tuesday it will set up a test facility at a North Las Vegas industrial site, a move hailed by Gov. Brian Sandoval and state officials as another coup in Nevada's quest to lure high-tech industry to the Silver State.

Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Technologies Inc. has signed agreements to locate its Propulsion Open Air Test on about 50 acres in the Apex Industrial Park. Hardware for the facility is expected to begin arriving later this month.

"This decision represents another major milestone in our journey to bring Hyperloop to commercial reality," said Rob Lloyd, the company's CEO.

Testing would begin as early as the first quarter of 2016, he said. The company hopes to have a commercially viable system in hand by 2020.

Hyperloop's concept involves pods smaller than a conventional train car carrying cargo and passengers in tubes much like an urban subway. The tubes would be sealed, however, and the air pumped out to reduce aerodynamic drag, allowing the magnetic levitation pods to hit 750 mph, much like a capsule in space. That would mean a Las Vegas-Los Angeles trip of less than a half hour.

The testing at the North Las Vegas facility will be conducted at speeds of up to 335 mph, the company said. It's unclear how many workers the company, which has total employment of less than 100 people, would have in Nevada.

"Hyperloop Technologies will invest first in regions where we receive government advocacy to move fast," Lloyd said, thanking Sandoval, state Economic Development Director Steve Hill and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee for their support for the project.

Sandoval calls it "exciting."

"This is a great announcement; this is an exciting piece of news for Nevada, and specifically Southern Nevada and the Apex Industrial Park," he told reporters in Carson Carson City. "This is a project that came to our attention not long ago and we're very fortunate that the entities that are associated with the Hyperloop have agreed to bring part of their testing to Southern Nevada."

He added, "It brings a new and exciting development; something that is in its nascent or beginning stages and Nevada gets to be on the ground floor of what could be one of the great new technologies."

Hill shared the governor's enthusiasm. "It certainly is thrilling to see how Nevada is becoming a place to research, develop, test and implement advanced technologies driven by innovation."

Lee said Hyperloop "will not only provide an economic boost to the region, it will demonstrate that Apex is the ideal location for visionary technology businesses."

Jonas Peterson, CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, which works with the Governor's Office of Economic Development in attracting companies to Southern Nevada, said the Hyperloop announcement is another boost in the state's bid to become an advanced technology center.

"The Hyperloop announcement represents a major step forward for economic development in Southern Nevada and is a testament to the expeditious work of our state and local governments to be a partner rather than an impediment to business," Peterson said. "Southern Nevada has a long entrepreneurial history in providing a home for testing of advanced technologies and that is a legacy we will see continued with this announcement. We are proud to support a company that could revolutionize global goods movement, and we are even prouder that our region will play host to Hyperloop Tech's systems test."

Lee said Tuesday that the city's leaders are moving to get the company operating as quickly as possible.

"We've had very detailed meetings with their staff, and I've met with the company's leadership and we are moving very quickly to get Stage 1 started for them," Lee said. "I know it's known as Apex, but I call it 'Miracle Valley.' It's incredible what this is meaning to everyone in Southern Nevada."

Lee said it makes sense to have Hyperloop in North Las Vegas.

"You know, we've got the fastest planes in the world at Nellis (Air Force Base) and the fastest cars in the world running out on the track there at the (Las Vegas Motor) Speedway. Now, we have a fast-moving city hall working on this futuristic global company that is changing transportation for the next generation."

Lee offered no timeline for the test sites's completion or how many employees it might have in North Las Vegas.

Futuristic concept

Hyperloop's super-speed pod transportation system was conceptualized a few years ago by billionaire inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk, though he is not affiliated with the company.

Musk is the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors Inc. Tesla is building a $5 billion lithium-ion battery factory in Northern Nevada east of Reno.

"We are excited that a handful of private companies have chosen to pursue this effort," SpaceX said on its website. "Neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is affiliated with any Hyperloop companies. While we are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves, we are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype."

SpaceX is sponsoring a competition scheduled for next year for teams to build human-scale pods.

Hyperloop's operation in North Las Vegas is just a first step toward a full system test. The Los Angeles-based company said it is in the final stages of selecting a site for a full-scale, full-speed prototype by late next year or early 2017. Sandoval said he does not know if Nevada is in the running for that 3-kilometer Hyperloop track.

"But I'm excited and proud that we do have this piece and I'm hopeful that if this goes well, we would be a strong candidate for that," he said.