Las Vegas, Nevada - It’s costing more to develop than even Elon Musk can afford, and many pundits still question whether it will work at all, but the Hyperloop transport system has reached a new milestone.

Seen here in a video that could have come from the imagination of the late Stanley Kubrick, Hyperloop One was able to propel its 8.5 metre transport pod to a record speed of 386km/h in recent testing, on a track only 488 metres long.

The half-kilometre DevLoop track in the Nevada desert is actually a sealed tube; the air is pumped out to a near-vacuum (about the same as that found 60 kilometres above the earth’s surface) to reduce air resistance to negligible levels. The pod is suspended above the rails by magnetic levitation, reducing rolling resistance to zero, and propelled by magnetic induction.

Hyperloop, until recently in desperate need of finance and teetering on the brink of collapse  - putting the jobs of about 300 employees at risk - has just received a cash injection of $50 million (R636 million) from the Virgin Group and plans to name Sir Richard Branson as chairman.

IOL Motoring