Elon Musk's Tesla-branded hyperloop sets new 220mph speed record

Scaled-down pod was previously used to push-start hyperloop pods built by students.

Tesla- and SpaceX-branded hyperloop pod could reach 500km/h in September, Musk saysElon Musk via Instagram

Just four years after saying he would build his own hyperloop if no one had made significant progress, here we are; Elon Musk has fired a Tesla-branded hyperloop pod through a near-vacuum tunnel at a record-breaking 220mph.

This surpasses the 201mph record set by a team of students from the Technical University of Munich at the Hyperloop Pod Competition just days earlier. Both runs took place in a 0.8-mile tunnel constructed as a hyperloop test track at Musk's SpaceX rocket building company in California.

The hyperloop pods used in these tests are scaled-down versions for now, but the dream is for hyperloops to be the size of intercity trains and to travel at 700 miles per hour, whisking travelers between cities in tunnels dug underground.

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There are plans to install a hyperloop taking passengers from London to Edinburgh (via Birmingham and Manchester) in 50 minutes.

It will, according to Musk's whitepaper launching the concept of hyperloop back in 2013, be a faster and cheaper alternative to current high speed trains and even air travel.

Musk's pod was previously used to push-start some of the student entries for the hyperloop competition, but earlier this week the billionaire entrepreneur decided to run the pod at high speed.

In an Instagram post showing the Tesla pod, Musk said: "We took the SpaceX/Tesla hyperloop pusher pod for a spin by itself a few days ago to see what it could do when not pushing student pods (some need a push to get going)...Got up to 355km/h (220mph) before things started [fire emoji]. Kind of like racing with a tugboat."

Musk added that his top speed will likely increase in the coming weeks. "Maybe able to get past 500km/h (about half speed of sound) next month with a few tweaks or maybe tiny pieces...".

The Tesla and SpaceX boss already has a lot on his plate, but with a new hobby venture called The Boring Company making progress with improving tunnel digging technology, hyperloop has come back onto his agenda. Musk has suggested how the tunnels could be used to transport Tesla cars on electric sleds at up to 125mph, skipping busy city traffic above, but removing the air and installing a hyperloop track is a logical business model to run alongside.

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