Maybe it is a commentary on the state of transportation here, but these days proponents of new and even radical modes of transportation seem to have India on their mind. This certainly holds true for those who are developing the hyperloop. A concept and term coined by the billionaire tech pioneer Elon Musk in 2013, the hyperloop promises travel on land at speeds of up to a 1,000 km per hour. After Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) sent a proposal to transportation minister Nitin Gadkari, rival company Hyperloop One also seems interested in testing the waters in India.
The company had announced a worldwide competition in May 2016 "to identify and select locations around the world with the potential to develop and construct the world's first hyperloop networks." It has now selected 35 finalist teams, and the selected teams will make presentations at three showcase events — in New Delhi on 28 February, in Washington D.C. on 6 April, and in London on 27 April. According to Hyperloop One, judges will then narrow the list to 12 semi-finalists, ultimately selecting three sites where the company will actually build the hyperloop.
There are five Indian routes among the 35 finalists, namely Mumbai-Chennai, Mumbai-Delhi, Chennai-Bengaluru (two proposals for the same route), Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram and a 'Port Connector' project. The selected routes will go under a feasibility study. Hyperloop One has said that there can be more than one winner at each of the events.
"We're not in the business of doing studies, we're in the business of looking for hyperloops that can be built," Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd told Inverse. "We want to have three routes in production in the next five years."
The company calls the concept "Amazon Prime on steroids" and is forming multiple partnerships around the world. It has already signed a deal in Dubai with the authorities for making a hyperloop there. It is going to perform its first full-scale test in the US around April this year.
Hyperloop One and HTT are in a fierce battle to show that their respective ways of implementing the hyperloop project would be best.
"We are a bunch of people collaborating," HTT's COO Bibop Gresta had told HuffPost India. "Rather than salaries we give stock options. And our investors are not just people who provide money. They can provide tools also. Software, hardware, test tracks, spaces anything."
While optimistic about the possibility of setting up a hyperloop in India, Gresta feels that much remains to be done to improve the country's infrastructure.
"Although India needs a better infrastructure," he said. "The government needs to invest more into education and technology to improve that. In the long run, the hyperloop ecosystem is such that it will make a profit. So, it doesn't need to be subsidised. Even private investors can put their money into it."
The battle of hyperloops seems to be getting promising.