Hyperloop lands in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The Hyperloop arrived in Columbia Thursday on the second stop of it's U.S. tour.

The Virgin XP-1 test pod is on display on the Francis Quadrangle at the University of Missouri, with representatives from Virgin on hand to answer questions.

The Hyperloop consists of a pod inside a closed tube that is propelled by a motor and levitates using magnets.

Missouri is one of the first states to potentially have a Hyperloop route, which would run from Kansas City to St. Louis, and would be able to take passengers from one city to the other in approximately 30 minutes.

While some are worried about the safety of a vehicle travelling at such high speeds, Kristen Hammer, manager of business development at Virgin, said the Hyperloop is "inherently safe by its design."

"It's a closed system, we're operating inside of this tube structure, meaning that there's no other cars that are in your way," she said. "There's no pedestrians, there's no bikes, there's no deer jumping in front of your car."

Joshua Simmons, an engineering student at MU, sees the Hyperloop as more than just a new form of transportation. He sees it as a potential career opportunity.

"Considering that they said this might roll out, getting people on is somewhere around ten years from now," Simmons said. "If all things go well, it would be something I'd have the opportunity to work on."

A main reason why the Missouri Hyperloop route is feasible is the placement of I-70. Hammer said the existing right of way near I-70 is a "big deal" for the project.

Hammer also said Missouri is one of the prime candidates for a route because of its history in transportation.

"It's a place for transportation innovation for sure, and it has been since the 1950s," she said. "The nice thing about this route is that we've had amazing support from the local groups here in Missouri."

If all goes well, and if Missouri is selected as the first operational route, the Hyperloop could be in place by 2030.

For Simmons, who hails from the Kansas City area, the possibility of a Hyperloop in Missouri opens up a world of convenience.

"Not only would that be convenient for me, but there would also be the economic impact of allowing people to go from one place to the next in just a quick ride of 15 minutes," he said.

The Hyperloop pod will be on display on the quad through noon on Oct. 4.