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Aerospace group licenses safer, cheaper technology for speedy Hyperloop transport concept

Hyperloop systems could transport travelers near the speed of sound and cut hours off normal drive times.

By Doug G. Ware

SAN FRANCISCO, May 9 (UPI) -- Hyperloop Transportation Technologies on Monday licensed what it said is safer passive magnetic levitation technology, which could help make its super-fast public transportation concept more of a reality than some skeptics ever believed possible.

HTT said it will use safer, cheaper technology to power its prototype transport, which developers say could ultimately carry passengers to a variety of U.S. destinations at speeds near 750 mph.

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"It's a passive magnetic levitation system that creates levitation through movement, so it's safer, more comfortable and less expensive than existing technology," Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn said Monday.

The idea is to transport travelers in a capsule vehicle inside a vacuum tube between destinations. Such travel could dramatically cut down the time it takes to go from one place to another. For example, the company says, riders could travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles -- normally a 6-hour drive -- in just 35 minutes. Pittsburgh to Chicago would take 45 minutes.

HTT is a crowdsourced aerospace group led by former engineers and officials from Boeing and NASA.

A rival, Hyperloop Technologies, Inc., plans to demonstrate similar technology for investors and the media in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Other companies are also developing the concepr, such as SkyTran, which is backed by NASA, and SpaceX.

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"From a safety aspect, the system has huge advantages, levitation occurs purely through movement, therefore if any type of power failure occurs, Hyperloop pods would continue to levitate and only after reaching minimal speeds touch the ground," Bibop Gresta, chief operating officer of HTT, said.

There are obstacles to the idea, though. Perhaps the biggest, infrastructure, is estimated to be an expensive proposition. A tube system between Los Angeles and San Francisco was recently pegged around $6 billion, USA Today reported.

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