Elon Musk may build Hyperloop himself, startups be damned

The Boring Company could become slightly less boring with its own Hyperloop.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read

For years, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk denied he would build a Hyperloop -- the futuristic floating train-in-a-tube he thought up in 2013. (He suggested a San Francisco to Los Angeles route could take just 35 minutes, faster than commuter flights.)

Instead, he opened up the idea to startups -- like Hyperloop One, which just this week showed off an actual capsule flying along a tube at 190 mph -- and assured them he wouldn't compete. "We are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves," reads a message that used to greet visitors to his Hyperloop competition website.

Now a source tells CNET Musk has changed his tune. Unsatisfied with the progress of those startups, he plans to build an entire Hyperloop between New York and Washington, D.C., himself.

Bloomberg, which reported the news earlier Friday, said executives at those startups were shocked when Musk tweeted last month that the White House had given his tunnel-digging Boring Company "verbal approval" to build a Hyperloop line between New York and D.C. Though the execs hoped Musk merely meant he'd be digging the tunnels and letting startups provide the rest of the infrastructure, Bloomberg cited its own source, close to Musk, who said Elon plans to construct the whole thing.

We can corroborate Bloomberg's report. And it doesn't hurt that the Boring Company won't deny it. Here's the statement we received from a company representative:

Elon published the Hyperloop paper in August 2013 as an open source design, with the hope that others would rapidly bring it to market. He said at the time that he would only seek to commercialize Hyperloop if after a few years other companies were not moving quickly enough. While we're encouraged that others are making some progress, we would like to accelerate the development of this technology as fast as possible. We encourage and support all companies that wish to build Hyperloops and we don't intend to stop them from using the Hyperloop name as long as they are truthful.

At the Boring Company, we plan to build low cost, fast-to-dig tunnels that will house new high-speed transportation systems. Most will be standard pressurized tunnels with electric skates going 125+ mph. For long distance routes in straight lines, such as NY to DC, it will make sense to use pressurized pods in a depressurized tunnel to allow speeds up to approximately 600+ mph (aka Hyperloop).

Hyperloop One didn't respond to a request for comment.