It’s hard not to be impressed by Elon Musk’s achievements so far, and he seems to have the magic business touch which makes things just work, even against reasonable odds. Who would have thought that sending money from any place in the world could be made easy and only require the use of a bank for the withdrawal process, the rest being surprisingly fuss-free, or the almost justifiable all-electric sedan with genuine mass appeal – it too works, and apparently very well indeed. He even put the idea of private space exploration into practice, with SpaceX.
If it had been anybody else saying they want to unveil plans for a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table” that can take its passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in 30 minutes, at an average (transonic) speed of 800 miles per hour (1280 km/h, or around Mach 1), and which would actually be cheaper to set up than building an old-fashioned train to serve the same route, we would have laughed. However, since this is Musk, who has thus far had a knack for making everything work, we can say our eyebrows are raised.
The Tesla boss recently announced that plans for such an alternative means of transport would be made public by August 12, and be open source, because patents are to be avoided unless they are critical for the company’s survival. Last year, he explained how he envisions the Hyperloop: “What you want is something that never crashes, that’s at least twice as fast as a plane, that’s solar-powered and that leaves right when you arrive, so there is no waiting for a specific departure time,” according to the NY Times which quote a 2012 article published by Bloomberg.
If you hadn’t previously heard of the Hyperloop, there are videos linked below with the man himself (vaguely) explaining what the idea is.
Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2013
Note: Opening photo is from the animated series Futurama, and the caricatured Statue of Liberty is holding up a vacuum tube, kind-of like the ones the Hyperloop is expected to use. The other photo below is from ET3, a Colorado based company that is working on its own Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system – you can also see videos of their project.
By Andrei Nedelea