This screenshot shows a hyperloop test track at one of Elon Musk's competitions to design pods for the ultra-fast transportation concept.
A decade from now, you may be able to sit comfortably as a levitating vehicle shoots through an underground tube at 800 mph, taking you from Pittsburgh to Chicago in 39 minutes.
Or you can visualize such a future this weekend at Carnegie Mellon University.
The school is celebrating 50 years since the merger of the Carnegie Institute of Technology and Mellon Institute. To honor its founders' contributions and innovations that followed, the Founders Exposition on Saturday will showcase a variety of initiatives and research. Visitors can interact with modern projects by playing "Go Fish" with a robot, testing the strength of their computer passwords or sitting down for a virtual reality experience from CMU Hyperloop.
The hyperloop concept, first floated by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2013, uses magnets and low air pressure to propel passenger pods through large steel tubes at speeds up to 800 mph. Teams from across the globe are competing to come up with a design that will make it a viable transit option.
CMU's team consists of 70-80 volunteers from a variety of fields. Engineering and business students play a part alongside drama majors, who wanted to create a virtual reality experience to help the curious public grasp how hyperloop technology can change daily life.
Realistically, commuters can expect to see functional hyperloops in about 10 years, said Ben Martin, the team's business lead.
"We didn't go to the moon in a year," he said. "The technical challenges that we have here are probably less than going to the moon, but it's mostly a private industry focus; so it's not like you have a big government bank and tens of billions of dollars pushing to make it happen."
The CMU team placed eighth in Musk's competition earlier this year. They plan to continue building models for future competitions and seeking sponsors to help with material costs.
Curious what life might be like with hyperloop access? Here's the virtual reality dramatization from CMU:
Hyperloop Experience Video
And here is footage from the fastest test drive at Musk's last competition:
While engineers solve the problem for how to create an ideal transit pod, Musk is focused on the tunnel aspect. His Boring Company has been working on a project in Los Angeles that would ferry cars at 125 mph to ease congestion woes. And just a few weeks ago, Maryland's Department of Transportation gave conditional approval for a tunnel to be bored between Baltimore and Washington.
Other states are also interested in the concept, hoping such transportation options would ease traffic problems. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is pursuing a route from Chicago to Columbus to Pittsburgh, which was selected by startup Virgin Hyperloop One as one of 10 routes it wants to build. Colorado officials are studying the feasibility of a hyperloop route.
But experts are split on whether the concept will come to fruition, or if it will amount to nothing more than hype. The major deterrent is cost. Building tunnels is expensive, as are the materials needed to construct pods safe for high-speed transit.