Hyperloop is Happening: The Mad Science Behind Elon Musk's Supersonic Tube Travel

Testing Begins

On June 12, The Hollywood Reporter was invited to observe as Hyperloop Technologies installed its first test rig in a former trucking depot not far from its downtown headquarters. About 40 feet of steel pipe, measuring 12 feet in diameter, was laid down by crane. A test track will begin construction sometime in 2016.

The Tesla and SpaceX founder proposed it — now two of his most trusted collaborators are trying to make it happen. THR gives you an exclusive look at the company hard at work on the biggest advancement in modern transportation since the airplane.

Hyperloop has taken its first major step toward becoming a reality.

On June 12, The Hollywood Reporter was granted exclusive access as Hyperloop Technologies Inc. — a tech startup that's set up shop in downtown Los Angeles — installed its inaugural test rig in a former trucking depot.

The company's 30 employees, mostly engineers in hard hats bearing the company's infinity-sign logo, buzzed excitedly as massive steel pipes were lowered by crane onto girders. Those pipes will be fused together to create a single length of vacuum tube, inside of which a prototype of a passenger pod or shipping container could, theoretically, reach supersonic speeds of 768 miles per hour.

The brainchild of billionaire inventor Elon Musk, 43, Hyperloop is a futuristic mode of ground transportation meant to whisk commuters from — for example — L.A. to San Francisco in 30 minutes flat. Finding his hands full with SpaceX and Tesla, however, Musk made his 58-page proposal open-sourced in August 2013. Any entrepreneurs bold or crazy enough to realize his theories were more than welcome to try.

Two L.A.-based companies are now hard at work doing just that. Of the two, only one — Hyperloop Technologies — bears Musk's unofficial stamp of approval. It was co-founded by one of Musk's most gifted SpaceX engineers — 44-year-old Brogan BamBrogan — as well as Shervin Pishevar, 40, a larger-than-life venture capitalist who, thanks to his early backing of a little-known taxi app called Uber, is now a proud member of the "three comma club," to borrow a phrase from HBO's Silicon Valley.

In August 2014, the company relocated from BamBrogan's Los Feliz garage to their current headquarters in the rapidly gentrifying Arts District. Bestia, arguably L.A.'s hottest restaurant, is a few blocks away; a second L.A. Soho House is scheduled to open practically next door.

Flush with $8.5 million in seed money, the company recently leased the neighboring property, growing its research and development space from 6,500 to 17,000 square feet. The next round of funding aims much higher: The company wants to raise $80 million, half of which Pishevar says he will put up himself.

For much more on Hyperloop Technology, scroll through this gallery of exclusive images.