The Hyperloop just got a little more official.
On Thursday, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), a California-based company developing Hyperloop technology, said it will break ground on the futuristic railway in May of 2016.
The company also announced that its team has grown to more than 400 members and it has secured three key partnerships to assist with development of the Hyperloop.
HTT’s new partners include the engineering design firm AECOM, the Swiss technology company Oerlikon, which builds high-tech vacuums that are necessary to the system to function, and the architecture firm Hodgetts & Fung.
The company has been working with these companies for a while for a while now, but just made the news public, Dirk Ahlborn, HTT’s CEO, told Tech Insider in an interview.
Earlier this year, HTT announced it had secured the land to build a five-mile Hyperloop test track just north of Los Angeles in Quay Valley. But it didn’t give a clear timeline of when they would begin construction. The company said it plans to have passengers using the system by 2018.
Musk’s Hyperloop vision
The Hyperloop was originally introduced by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013 when he published a white paper explaining how the transportation system could work.
Basically, Musk’s vision of the Hyperloop was a tubular system that shoots pod-like capsules between destinations at speeds of more than 500 miles per hour.
Musk is not pursuing building a commercial Hyperloop himself, but other entrepreneurs, like Ahlborn, have jumped into the space trying to create a business.
HTT, which was founded in 2013, finished its Hyperloop development study in 2014 and Ahlborn said that HTT is currently making sure all of the permits are in place so that it can begin the process of selecting builders for the project.
“We have everything basically figured out for Quay Valley, but we are still trying to continuously develop new ways of making things better or more economical. The timing always varies a little bit, but we are making steady progress and for now we are still in our timeline and everything looks good,” Ahlborn said.
“What we are doing has never been done before, so that is a very big challenge. Over the next couple of months, we are going to reveal some things we have been working on for quite sometime,” he added.
And after the company begins construction in Quay Valley, it aims to build another Hyperloop system overseas, likely in Asia or Africa, Ahlborn said.
What other Hyperloop players are up to
Another startup working on building a Hyperloop system is the LA-based company Hyperloop Technologies. The company has kept somewhat quiet on its plans, but is currently developing a test system at its headquarters.
While Musk isn’t building a Hyperloop system, his company SpaceX is hosting a competition next year to see who can build the best pod, or the individual capsules passengers ride in. The competition is aimed at university students and independent engineers, but companies developing Hyperloop technologies can choose to sponsor certain teams.
More than 1,200 applicants entries have signed up for the competition so far and SpaceX is expected to release additional details about the competition before the end of the month.