Elon Musk to publish Hyperloop transport system plans next month

By on July 15, 2013, 1:45 PM
tesla, elon musk, hyperloop, transport system, tubes, capsules

Transportation technology has improved vastly since the days of the horse and buggy. Consumers now have access to automobiles that can top 250 mph and airplanes that can transport people across the country in less than six hours but if you are SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, these methods simply aren’t good enough.

Musk recently announced plans to unveil a system dubbed Hyperloop on August 12. Described as a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table, it’s essentially a network of cross-country tubes with capsules inside that would be used to transport up to six people (and their luggage) from one side of the country to the other in just 45 minutes.

The transportation system would use maglev technology similar to what is in use by bullet trains to propel the capsules at up to 4,000 mph. All air would be removed from the tube system to eliminate friction and we are told that human passengers would only feel the G-forces they already experience in a traditional vehicle.

This all sounds amazing on paper but the real-world implementation would naturally be met with many hurdles although price may not be one of them. According to Musk, the system would only need 1/20th the amount of materials as a high-speed rail line and cost 1/10th as much to build. Put another way, the cross-country Hyperloop would only cost 25 percent of what it would cost to build a highway.

The savings would be passed on to consumers as a trip from New York to Los Angeles would only set you back about $100.




User Comments: 20

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MilwaukeeMike said:

As much as this sounds like it's too good to be true, I think it's brilliant.

Provided they can make it safe that is. If a tube cracks you can't exactly stop something traveling at 4,000 mph very quickly.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

For better efficiency, the first line should stretch from the state that's known to blow always, and to the one known to suck most, no names given

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Sounds great but I doubt I'll see it's inception.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Provided they can make it safe that is. If a tube cracks you can't exactly stop something traveling at 4,000 mph very quickly.

Mother Nature can. Just like any transport mode of today, disasters can & will take place.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Mother Nature can. Just like any transport mode of today, disasters can & will take place.

And I like the clean concept - if passengers break out at those speeds, no victims will ever be found in the vicinity - guaranteed, less hustle for the transport providers.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As much as this sounds like it's too good to be true, I think it's brilliant.

Provided they can make it safe that is. If a tube cracks you can't exactly stop something traveling at 4,000 mph very quickly.

It will probably still end up being safer than car travel. Planes are currently the fastest mode of travel and apparently the safest.

JC713 JC713 said:

Wow now this looks awesome.

Railman said:

At those speeds you cannot have any sharp curves. Just imagine the G Forces. Of course the main issue is the number of vehicles you can use on the system. That would determine how cost effective the system would be.

LibertyNews LibertyNews said:

May be able to replace existing subway cars. Safety will be the big issue. Overland exposed to the elements? I'd test it on old rail right of ways

Guest said:

If something like this were to happen I could see Airlines fighting the implementation of this, just like with alternatively powered cars, Oil companies won't let it happen. But if it did happen I would be very happy. If they could get a reasonable emergency breaking system which wouldn't kill the passengers and have a solid system making sure the tube is intact along the way it would work.

Railman said:

Traditional rail works despite the fact the wheels are only in contact with the rails the area of a small coin. I dare say a similar principle exists with maglev. Despite the recent rail accident near Paris last week rail still remains the safest form of transport.

Guest said:

This is not a new concept at all. It was first conceived in the 1970's as a vac-train. Then Was re-labeled by it's inventor as Evacuated Tube Transport - http://www.et3.com/, Unless Musk got permission or is working with the company, it looks like he stole the idea.

The problem with implementing it currently is that it must be completely straight and uninterrupted. As in no curvature the tube whatsoever.

Spect said:

The U.S. has been running a tunnel borring machine for the last several years under ground and they implemented some sort of high speed travel connecting all their DUMB's (deep underground military base's) I would be willing to bet its a spinoff of this technology.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Lots of tubes above ground or this going to be underground as well. They should build a system like this from Miami to the London, UK cost is only $100 round trip. Not like it is with Airlines want 1.5 to 2.3 thousand of dollars to travel round trip to London, UK.

wiyosaya said:

This is not a new concept at all. It was first conceived in the 1970's as a vac-train. Then Was re-labeled by it's inventor as Evacuated Tube Transport - http://www.et3.com/, Unless Musk got permission or is working with the company, it looks like he stole the idea.

A modern inventor stealing something?? Nah, not in this day and age! LOL

I'm not defending Musk, however, if it has been out there that long, it is public domain by US patent laws anyway.

Sealing the tube and drawing a vacuum on it will be no trivial matter. Whoever said that that vacuum will eliminate friction is not really correct. What that will do is eliminate atmospheric drag - which is friction of the vehicle with the air molecules. At those velocities, atmospheric drag would probably fry the car and its occupants.

The vacuum will not, however, eliminate any friction between the car and the walls of the tube, so if the mag lev part failed anywhere along the line, well, like one other poster said, I doubt there will be much left of anything at a "full speed" accident site. At those velocities, kinetic energy is extreme.

I can really only conceive of this being built if it some sort of safe, emergency braking were implemented in the event of a tube failure somewhere down the tracks.

It will be interesting to see if this ever gets built. I'm willing to bet that Musk will have to put up a lot of money to build it.

Guest said:

Airplane tycoons won't let it go easy..

Guest said:

Let's remove all the hyperbole and remember that this program would undergo years of testing before it would go live. During the initial start up speeds would be much less that 4K MPH and would only have to be 400-500 MPH to get you very quickly from one point to another (e.g. one hour between NYC and WDC central city to central city). There will be extensive fail safes in place and ways to rapidly decelerate the cars in an emergency and there would be areas where the cars could be shunted off. Additionally, it is maglev so the speed would be controlled like the maglev train in Shanghai, China to maintain correct distance between each of the capsules. So in the final analysis this form of transportation will be significantly safer than anything else we currently have. I am impressed and encouraged that we still have those among us who dare to dream of a very different future and are willing to do the work to make it a reality.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As the contour of land changes, so would the precision of the tube. I wonder if they will make the tube self-adjusting, for (lack of a better word) course correction to allow extreme speeds.

Railman said:

Anyone who knows about traditional railways should know that high speed lines tend to be straighter but will require more gradients, tunnels, viaducts, cuttings and embankments. All those things cost money. It would be impossible to build the system in a totally straight line. It would have to follow the curvature of the earth.

emil01 said:

As exiting as this technology is, it is imply not going to happen. You want to take advantage of the high speeds is capable of and therefore only have long range transportation to gain most efficiency, but since this system requires a straight line of the tubes, you will simply never be able to make a straight line through cities, households etc. The cost will be unimaginable if you had to move thousands of residences, businesses and infrastructure to make room for the tube.

Only way I think the system would work is for continental travel - a straight way through the sea.

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