Arrivo, the company founded by former SpaceX and Hyperloop One engineer Brogan BamBrogan, announced today that it had formed a partnership with Colorado’s Department of Transportation to build a hyperloop through the city of Denver.
Well, not a hyperloop exactly. First of all, there’s no tube involved, so the idea of traveling through a near-vacuum state at close to supersonic speeds has been replaced with a more modest proposal of whisking along a magnetized track that parallels preexisting freeways at 200 mph. The system could support your own personal vehicle, as well as cargo sleds and its own specially designed vehicles that could also travel on normal roads. It’s like if Hyperloop One and Elon Musk’s Boring Company had a baby, but left it out in the daylight rather than hide it in tubes or underground tunnels. Arrivo calls it the “super urban network.”
The most interesting thing about what Arrivo is proposing is how it totally does away with the original premise of the hyperloop, as first introduced by Musk in a white paper back in 2013. Rather than focus on high-speed travel between cities hundreds of miles apart, Arrivo wants to be the transportation network for shorter, more localized routes. Think the Denver Airport to the city’s downtown — a 32-mile journey that normally takes 55 minutes during rush hour — in just nine minutes. And it would be less expensive to build than the hyperloop, since there would be no tubes to install on raised pylons or tunnels to dig. Laying track alongside a freeway would certainly present its own challenges, especially if Arrivo decides to cover it to prevent debris from getting in the way of its vehicles.
“If I want to travel really fast between two cities in a low-pressure environment inside a metal tube, I would use an airplane,” BamBrogan told Wired. “They’re very efficient, the ride is smooth, the orange juice is free.”
Arrivo plans to build a test route along the E-470 toll road, which runs north-south along the east side of Denver, past the airport. If all goes well, the company will begin construction in 2019, with the aim to go into operation two years later.
“Colorado’s rapidly growing population and booming economy makes for the ideal location for the development of an Arrivo system,” said Governor John Hickenlooper in a statement. “Arrivo’s additional decision to locate their test facilities, adding up to 200 employees by 2020 and $10 – 15 million to our economy in 2018, is a testament to the culture of innovation that drives our economic engine.”
Back when he first announced the creation of Arrivo, BamBrogan was promising a more “unique take” than what’s currently being cooked up by Musk or his former employers at Hyperloop One. In 2016, BamBrogan was ousted from the company he helped found amid a bitter (and deeply weird) lawsuit, which was later settled. Since then, Hyperloop One conducted several high-speed demonstrations and recently announced a major deal with Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
Arrivo wouldn’t be the only hyperloop company with its sights set on Colorado. The Rocky Mountain State was one of 10 finalists in Hyperloop One’s global challenge to pick the best route. A feasibility study is under way for that effort as well.