(Joshua Caldwell / Cryptic Butterfly Photography / Hyperloop One)

Engineers working for Hyperloop One have just tested a key technology that could someday help us travel as fast on the ground as airliners do in the air.

At a sneak peek in the Las Vegas desert Wednesday, Hyperloop One showed off a newly designed electric motor that's capable of propelling a sled down a track for hundreds of feet. Here it is in action:

That spray of sand you see at the end there is meant to help slow the vehicle down. The real Hyperloop won't be using sandbeds or rails, of course. The final product — a small version of which will be tested by year's end, according to Hyperloop One — will feature a levitating car inside a tunnel. Changes in air pressure inside the tunnel will help reduce drag, making it possible for the car to travel hundreds of miles per hour — covering the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco, say, in roughly 30 minutes.