Billionaire Richard Branson is hoping to give Tesla CEO Elon Musk some competition, not in electric vehicles but rather in the super high-speed travel systems known as hyperloops.
Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop last week picked West Virginia to host a $500 million certification center and test track for a system that would use magnets to whisk pods filled with passengers and cargo through vacuum tubes at more than 600 mph.
“Today we lay the foundation for commercial deployment and operations across the United States of America and beyond,” Virgin Hyperloop CEO Jay Walder told reporters, according to Reuters.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022 on the site of a former coal mine about a four-hour drive (or 18 minutes by hyperloop) west of Washington, D.C. The company said it expects to have safety certification by 2025 and to start commercial operations by 2030. Federal regulators plan to use the site to help establish regulatory and safety standards for hyperloops.
Musk has been discussing hyperloops for years, though his near-term focus has been transit systems zipping commuters through tunnels in electric cars. His Boring Co. has dug two tunnels under Las Vegas to transport visitors to the city’s convention center.