Three weeks and counting, KFElon Musk, founder of the electric car company Tesla (among other things), has been dropping references to a new mode of rapid transit he calls the "Hyperloop" and described as "a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table." Supposedly, he'll share more this summer.
Musk said in an interview with CNBC Friday that California's massively expensive high-speed rail project got him thinking about it. He criticized its slowness, at least compared to similar systems in China and Europe, and its cost, which may be as high as $100 billion.
The Hyperloop, on the other hand, will be blazing fast, getting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under half an hour. And, he says, "it can be done for probably a tenth the cost per mile." But what is it?
No one knows, though many are speculating based on Musk's recent remarks. The Concorde was a famously fast (and famously expensive) supersonic passenger jet; a railgun propels a projectile using high-power magnetic forces; and air hockey tables hover the puck above the table with tiny jets of air.
The world already has magnetically levitated trains, of course, so it's not that. In fact, Musk has called it a "fifth mode of transportation," totally distinct from planes, trains, automobiles and boats.
Beyond that (and a few other tidbits here and there over the last few years), Musk has declined to give any further details other than that he himself won't be focusing on the project, but promised that following a major Tesla announcement on June 20, he'll have time to elaborate.
First of all this is private enterprise, right where the Republicans want it. But more important it's the DEMOCRATS that will have to start behaving a whole lot better before there can be snarky remarks about Republicans again.Jason27 wrote:Hyperloop will never happen. Republicans will block it like they block everything else.
I think that would constrain him with self-interest. Better to have a minion or culture of friendly interests to do it for you.lester12483 wrote:Musk is way ahead of his time. We need more billionaires like him who have vision to help humanity and actually USE their wealth rather than hoard it.
Musk needs to run for senate and get rid of Barbara Boxer in CA or perhaps governor. Then he can actually make some changes for the better.
Maybe he's shooting the vehicles in opposite directions at the same time - in separate but linked tubes, so the pressure/vacuum is a wash.Kingfish wrote:I think it would be very expensive to keep the tube evacuated; however partial evacuation - lowering pressure to about 1/2 or more might be sustainable.
TylerDurden wrote: Maybe he's shooting the vehicles in opposite directions at the same time - in separate but linked tubes, so the pressure/vacuum is a wash.
See the title link for the full article.Transportation policy experts are as anxious as anyone else to get the details about brainy billionaire Elon Musk's "Hyperloop" high-speed transit concept on Monday. But their enthusiasm is tempered by the fiscal and political realities that have held back high-speed rail and other transportation innovation for 50 years.
Musk, who heads the SpaceX rocket venture as well as the Tesla electric-car company, says what he has in mind isn't a rail system. He calls the Hyperloop a "fifth mode" of transportation, distinct from planes, trains, automobiles and boats.
"It would work better than a high-speed rail, or a plane, between the right city pairs, like San Francisco and L.A., or New York-Boston," he told CNBC. A trip from S.F. to L.A. would take about a half-hour, which suggests an average speed in excess of 600 mph (900 kilometers per hour). Musk guessed that the system could be built for a tenth of the cost-per-mile associated with California's proposed $68 billion high-speed rail system, which won't be nearly as high speed as Japan's. During May's D11 Conference, he said the Hyperloop would be a "cross between a Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table."
Such grand projects have foundered in the United States, due to the expense of building new infrastructure and negotiating the rights of way, particularly in the country's urban centers. If America still relies on a rail transportation system that has more in common with the 19th century than the 21st century, it's not because the technology has been lacking. High-speed rail travel, in the form of Japan's Shinkansen system and France's TGV network, is closing in on its 50th anniversary.
Emil Frankel, a former transportation official who is now a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, says the vision of criss-crossing America with bullet trains just isn't realistic anymore.
"I just can't imagine that in a time when we have these huge annual deficits," he told NBC News. "It seems far better to make improvements in our existing systems. One would like our trains to travel faster than they did in the 19th century, and many of them don't."