Keeping in the Hyperloop: Building a Faster Future

Elon Musk's ambitious concept for a new mode of transportation has been picking up speed. Meet some of the students and engineers working to make the Hyperloop a reality.
An artists' rendering of a passenger concept for the Hyperloop. (Image source: Camilo Sanchez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The next great mode of transportation might not be invented by a large corporation, it could be a team of students, or even a group of strangers on the Internet.

In 2012, when Elon Musk proposed creating a “fifth mode of transportation,” (the other four being cars, planes, trains, and boats), many dismissed it as a passing fancy at worst and a futurist pipe dream at best. Musk, best known in his roles as the CEO of electric auto company, Tesla, and SpaceX, the independent spacecraft company, has a penchant for announcing projects that sound more like the visions of an Isaac Asimov novel than practical. His many dream projects include colonizing mars , creating a system of underground tunnels for automobile traffic, and, most recently, creating a neurological link between humans and machines.

Musk called his idea for a new transportation system the Hyperloop.  It would travel twice the speed of a plane (able to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes), be immune to changes in weather, never have collisions, have low power consumption, and enough energy storage to operate for 24 hours a day. Musk envisions it as the ideal mode of transportation between cities 900 miles or less apart.

Engineers at Tesla and SpaceX got on it and in 2013 Musk released a 57-page white paper detailing an early design concept.

“When the California 'high-speed' rail was approved, I was quite disappointed, as I know many others were too,” Musk wrote in the paper. “How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL – doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars – would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?”

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The basic concept of the Hyperloop is to send pods, containing passengers and/or cargo, through a tube. The tube would contain fans that create partial vaccuum inside to reduece wind resistance. By propelling the pods through a partial vacuum, using either air pressure, wheels, or some sort of electromagnetic system (similar to a bullet train's maglev system) theorists believe the Hyperloop could obtain supersonic speeds one day.

It all sounded like a nice thought experiment. Then Musk did something unexpected. In 2013 He announced that the Hyperloop would be open source and invited anyone who dared to try to come up with new iterations on the design to improve it and make the Hyperloop a reality.

Companies sprang up almost overnight – all aiming to make their version of the Hyperloop into a working, scalable system. Early this year Los Angeles-based Hyperloop

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Comments

comparing magnetic levitation to Hyperloop Designs should include detailed Economical Justification Study. Feasibility Study without Taxpayer Funding seems appropriate due to small numbers of passengers facing enormous startup and operating costs. other significant variables are too numerous to list. Existing NON-AUTO travel Modes; Bus, Planes, Rail-magnetic levatation, all face Downstream Travel Variables added to time intervals. RAIL-Magnetic Levitation already has existing geophysical

subway systems are NOT new, envisioning one with I. T. Management is also NOT new. concepts of travel modes, energy systems can be envisioned by anyone interested enough to sketchout preliminary designs. Others like Musk, armed with Billions of Taxpayer Money granted him by Barack Hussain Obama can and do hire real engineering scientists to further develop more detailed sketches of these Ideas, likely without real feasibility or economic justification they will face in Real Time.

the 6 billion dollar Idea is a little bizarre unless the Gov.cOn provides the trillions to develop any real system of transport that includes a real cost projection including actual variables ie; real estate, engineering, manufacturing, independent of existing, Air, Train, Auto modes of travel providing goods and services to our Demand and Supply Market without GOV.CoN taxpayer Funds. Musks' trio of tax liabilities facing a new gov. interested in downsizing our liabilities faces inevitability.

After reading Entire Article it appears many significant variables of feasibility study are considered, revealing the UNlikelyhood of any forseeabke entry into transportation infrastructure. further development of cost variables are not likely outside some future prospect in getting at the investlent community is not timely from a perspective of NONfeasibility. the name HYPERLOOP made be pinned on maglev development, modern subways, without any relation to sketches shown here.

Quick question - at 1:33, the vid shows a guy inside the capsule reading a newspaper with, apparently, a view from the outside (via a window, I guess?).... While looking at the capsule, I see no windows. Although, as an engineer, one might think "so what?". This is actually very important, physiologically speaking. The Idea seems good, but other caveats with reign. On another note, there is going to be a LOT of unknown questions that need to be answered before this concept becomes a reality.

<EDIT> ... The Idea seems good, but other caveats will reign.

It is an interesting concept but the logistics will prevent it from ever happening. The hardware cost per passenger position will be excessive, and it will not be smart to put the power supply on the car. A mag-lev system with external drive functioning as part of the track would make more sense, and, in fact, I designed the controls for such a system that was to be at EPCOT center, back when it was being built.

The reliability requirements will kill the thing. Individual sealed compartments in an evacuated tube might be fine for a space capsule, but the same level of reliability in a transportation system will be way too expensive. And how could they rescue people when failures occur? And, given the amount of computer control needed, we now that software problems will be common and frequent.

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