Nobody laughs much at Elon Musk anymore, but plenty of people snickered at his Hyperloop idea. To remind you, the Hyperloop is a series of underground trains powered by compressed air that transport folks between cities in tubes at around Mach I. While that may sound certifiably insane, a company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies doesn’t think so, and with the help of some UCLA students, has made considerable progress developing the idea. According to Wired, the startup has enlisted top engineers from companies like Boeing, Airbus and SpaceX willing to work on Hyperloop in their spare time in exchange for stock options.
When Elon Musk unveiled his idea for the Hyperloop in August of 2013, no one seemed sure what the next step would be. The Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO dropped a 57-page alpha white paper on us, noting he didn’t really have the time to build a revolutionary transit system that would shoot pods full of people around the country in above-ground tubes at 800 mph. Fortunately for futurists and people who enjoy picking apart complicated plans, an El Segundo, California-based startup has taken Musk up on his challenge to develop and build the Hyperloop. JumpStartFund combines elements of crowdfunding and crowd-sourcing—bringing money and ideas in from all over the place—to take ambitious ideas and move them toward reality. When Musk proposed his idea, JumpStartFund was fresh off its beta launch, and taking on the Hyperloop seemed like the perfect way to test the company’s approach (and drum up headlines), says CEO Dirk Ahlborn. So they reached out to SpaceX, proposed the project on their online platform, and created a subsidiary company to get to work: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc.