China to take on Elon Musk's Hyperloop with plans for a new 'supersonic' train that also uses vacuum tubes to propel passengers
The company behind Volvo has inked a deal with China's state-owned high-tech firm to develop 'supersonic trains.'
Geely and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC) will work together to build the system, which is expected to closely mirror the long-awaited Hyperloop technology envisioned by tech moguls like Elon Musk and Richard Branson.
China already runs the world's longest high-speed rail line and is looking to build its own supersonic transport network.
The agreement was signed Tuesday at an aerospace industry show in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai.
Plans for the partnership describe combining two technologies - magnetic levitation to eliminate ground friction and vacuum tubes to reduce air resistance - to create a 'hypersonic' mode of transportation, Geely said in a statement.
CASIC is working on a system that can shuttle trains at a maximum speed of 1,000 kph (620 mph) and studying technologies that could go as fast at 4,000 kph in the future.
'Core technology can’t be bought,' Geely chairman Li Shufu said at the air show, according to Bloomberg.
'The more you use others’ technology, the more reliant you become. We have to innovate on our own.
'The journey will be tough but the prospects are promising,' Shufu explained.
Geely and CASIC will 'pool their capabilities', the statement said, but it did not give details on their investment in the joint effort or a timeframe.
'Technologies developed through the realization of supersonic trains will help Geely Holding advance the fields of new energy vehicles, automotive safety, and new material science,' the statement said.
They're likely to face many of the same challenges encountered by other startups that have looked into developing Hyperloop systems based around magnetic levitation.
Many haven't figured out issues around passenger safety and proving the new technology.
However, many firms continue to charge ahead with bringing their Hyperloop systems to fruition.
The Hyperloop idea was unveiled by Elon Musk in 2013, who at the time said it could take passengers the 380 miles (610km) from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes - half the time it takes a plane.
It is essentially a long tube that has had the air removed to create a vacuum.
The tube is suspended off the ground to protect against weather and earthquakes.
Branson's Virgin Hyperloop One last month announced plans to build a track in Missouri, on top of its working track in Nevada.
The Missouri system would transport people at roughly 700mph between distant locations through closed off vacuum tubes.