This week, the House of Representatives passed the future of transportation act with the surprise inclusion of the hyperloop.

The bipartisan Moving Forward Act would authorize the Nontraditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council (NETT) of the Department of Transportation to provide “guidance for a clear regulatory framework for the safe deployment of hyperloop transportation.”

In developing guidance, four considerations to be explored include:

  1. Oversight on safety, environmental, project delivery and other regulatory requirements.
  2. Delineate between relevant authorities for hyperloop transportation in the department and provide project sponsors with a single point of access to the department to inquire about projects, plans and proposals.
  3. Establish procedures for the regulation of hyperloop transportation projects.
  4. Develop processes and best practices for identifying, managing and resolving hyperloop transportation matters.

A hyperloop system is billed as a transportation option that can carry both people and goods at about 700 miles per hour in depressurized environments via magnetic levitation. Some of these hyperloop pods are either above ground or in tubes underground. While no one has been able to reach these speeds yet, several companies are experimenting with pushing the maximum speeds of the hyperloop to eventually meet these expectations.

Hyperloop technology uses magnetic levitation to lift the pod off the track and guide it as it moves, creating a friction-free track. Almost all the air in the tube surrounding the pod is removed to create the same environment found at 200,000 ft above sea level. The combination of the linear motor, magnetic levitation and low-pressure tube reduces drag so that only a small amount of electricity is needed to propel the pod at speeds as high as 670 miles per hour. This creates a more cost-effective system than high-speed rail or airline transportation.

Virgin Hyperloop praised the move by the House of Representatives on the forward-leaning stance on advanced transportation technologies. Virgin said the recognition is the first of its kind and not only acknowledges hyperloop in the U.S., but also gives NETT this guidance within six months for safe deployment of a hyperloop system.

“The inclusion of hyperloop transportation in this legislation is historic and once again establishes the U.S. as an innovation leader, giving us an opportunity not just to rebuild but evolve using transformative and innovative technologies,” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop, in a statement.

Virgin Hyperloop has been working with the NETT council over the last year and a half to help advance the hyperloop technology and to do so in a safe but quick manner. The bill also ensures that new and emerging transportation systems can have a one-stop shop at the U.S. Department of Transportation for guidance on development.

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