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Miami to Orlando in 26 minutes? It could happen with hyperloop tech, but when?

Hyperloop One test shoots closer to making superfast transportation a reality

Hyperloop transportation system company, Hyperloop One, successfully conducted an open air propulsion system test in North Las Vegas, Nevada on May 11, 2016. The sled's run along a track in the desert lasted two seconds, and ended in a cloud of sa
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Hyperloop transportation system company, Hyperloop One, successfully conducted an open air propulsion system test in North Las Vegas, Nevada on May 11, 2016. The sled's run along a track in the desert lasted two seconds, and ended in a cloud of sa

Want to travel from Miami to Orlando in the time it takes to watch half an episode of “Star Trek” — while watching half an episode of “Star Trek”?

Well, in the not-too-distant future, you may be able to with tube-transit technology.

Hyperloop One is a Los Angeles-based company holding a global challenge, pitting regions against one another to compete for development opportunities, and Florida is one of 11 U.S. contenders. If the technology came to Florida, it would take about 26 minutes to travel from Miami to Orlando, according to the company.

Alice Bravo, director of public works for Miami-Dade County, said in The Verge, which first reported this story, that the Miami to Orlando route could be a huge boon for moving tourists as well as freight from the busy PortMiami. State and local officials are reportedly involved in the proposal.

And it could be just the start, as the Florida hyperloop could be extended to Atlanta and then Chicago in later stages. “We think this is a corridor that could serve as a national stimulus for this area of innovation and human capital intellect,” Bravo told The Verge.

Hyperloop One announced that its test track in the desert north of Las Vegas, dubbed the “DevLoop,” is now operational and it plans to soon hold human trials there for its sci-fi-like transit system with speeds up to 760 miles per hour: Think huge tubes that stretch over the landscape and use electric propulsion to literally blast people-filled pods over the earth. Oh, and the pods will levitate within the tube, because, well, magnets. And the pods could have windows with augmented-reality capabilities.

Hyperloop technology was proposed by tech billionaire Elon Musk of SpaceX. Companies have sprung up around the technology, including Hyperloop One, which was founded after Musk’s trailblazing, in 2014 by Shervin Pishevar and Brogan BamBrogan.

Miami to Orlando is one of 38 semifinalists in the company’s Hyperloop Global Challenge. Other locations covered by the proposals include Los Angeles to San Diego; Las Vegas to Reno; Seattle to Eugene, Oregon; Kansas City to St. Louis; Pittsburgh to Chicago; Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Houston; and Boston to Providence, Rhode Island, as well as routes in India, the U.K., China and Mexico. Hyperloop One’s main rival, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, has plans to build hyperloops in a half-dozen countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

A Hyperloop One executive said it is aiming to work with two or three U.S. projects, and told USA Today it will gauge the support of local governments, state officials and federal officials for each project.

For Hyperloop One’s challenge, cities will be selected by an international jury of experts in transport and technology. They’re looking for locales that “most powerfully make the case for how Hyperloop would not only transform passenger and cargo transport in their locations, but also how that Hyperloop transformation will drive economic growth, generate opportunities for development, and create radically new opportunities for people to live anywhere, work anywhere and be anywhere.”

The race to the future is on.

Nancy Dahlberg: ndahlberg@miamiherald.com, @ndahlberg

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