Elon Musk’s Hyperloop still feels more like a crazy dream than an actual form of transportation, but it may not be long before the first track is up and running. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) recently secured the agreements it needs to build a 5-mile track after initially announcing those plans back in February.
Speaking to National Geographic, HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn said he’s cleared to break ground next year. Construction should be done by 2017, and the company may even be able to carry passengers by 2018.
Ahlborn previously said he isn’t just building a “test track,” though the goal has always been to see just how practical Musk’s idea really is. “We look at it as a metro system,” he said last week, noting that a full network of Hyperloop tracks could eventually connect the country and even the world.
HTT is just one of several companies racing to realize Musk’s vision. The Tesla CEO also has plans for his own test track in Texas where “pod racing” contests could take place.
For now though, HTT likely has the best shot at building an actual functioning Hyperloop first. The company has a team of 200 engineers contributing to development. Now it has permission to start building too.