Elon Musk details proposed Hyperloop transit system

By on August 12, 2013, 6:15 PM
tesla, elon musk, hyperloop, transit system

Elon Musk on Monday revealed details of a high-speed transportation system dubbed the Hyperloop. The proposed city-to-city transit system would rely on solar power to take passengers – and even vehicles – from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 30 minute at speeds of up to 800 miles per hour.

It may sound like science fiction to some but Musk believes he can pull it off. The Hyperloop would consist of steel tubes with aluminum pods inside for passengers to ride in. It’d look something like a giant shotgun with tubes running side by side for the majority of the trip.

The tubes would be mounted to columns 50 to 100 yards apart and would, for the most part, follow the I-5 freeway between the two cities. The system presents much less of a land rights issue as the tubes would be elevated unlike the state’s proposed high-speed rail system.

The train system is expected to cost upwards of $100 billion according to the PayPal co-founder. In comparison, Musk said he could build the Hyperloop for $6 billion with people-only pods and $10 billion for a system that can carry people and cars. He said the Hyperloop would be four times faster than the proposed train and cost a tenth to build. Tickets would sell for much less than a conventional plane ride, we’re told.

Riding in a pod would be a much more enjoyable experience than, say, an airplane or even a subway as you wouldn’t have to contend with unexpected turbulence, ill effects of cabin pressure changes and lateral motion changes. Naturally, there would be an emergency brake if something were to go wrong.

Musk said the transit system is designed to link cities that are less than 1,000 miles apart that have heavy traffic between them. Cross-country treks are out of the question for now as cost starts to become prohibitive when you cross the 1,000 mile marker.




User Comments: 14

Got something to say? Post a comment
MrAnderson said:

This sounds idealistically wonderful and I would enjoy seeing something like this in my life time to enjoy.

I still wonder what is the capacity? If it cannot meet the demand the prices will go up, or if there is a long wait time to use the pods you might find yourself having to take an alternate mode of transport.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

The train system is expected to cost upwards of $100 billion according to the PayPal co-founder. In comparison, Musk said he could build the Hyperloop for $6 billion with people-only pods and $10 billion for a system that can carry people and cars.

Well, duh. The train system would be a govt project and the hyperloop would be a private one. Having bottomless pockets and no incentive to cut costs does tend to inflate the price a bit. California didn't get to $400 billion in debt by cutting corners after all.

Honestly though, I'm just jealous because the only thing my city has that SF doesn't is snow.

1 person liked this | cmbjive said:

"The proposed city-to-city transit system would rely on solar power to take passengers ? and even vehicles ? from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 30 minute at speeds of up to 800 miles per hour."

Does the sun even generate enough energy to get something up to eight hundred miles per hour? To get to 1,000 mph, a land car had to use 30,000 hp rocket engines. I don't see how Mr. Musk expects to generate that much power using the sun. If he can, maybe he should put that power to a better use, such as powering homes and businesses off the electric grid.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Does the sun even generate enough energy to get something up to eight hundred miles per hour?
Well if you have 400 Miles of solar panels, I'm fairly certain anything is possible.

Not to mention the fact that your equation above doesn't account for vacuum. Vacuum is supposedly the main key in removing friction, which allows for less power requirements.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Awesome, idea like seen in the Venus Project (not that Jacque came up with it first but still).

MilwaukeeMike said:

"The proposed city-to-city transit system would rely on solar power to take passengers ? and even vehicles ? from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 30 minute at speeds of up to 800 miles per hour."

Does the sun even generate enough energy to get something up to eight hundred miles per hour? To get to 1,000 mph, a land car had to use 30,000 hp rocket engines. I don't see how Mr. Musk expects to generate that much power using the sun. If he can, maybe he should put that power to a better use, such as powering homes and businesses off the electric grid.

If you look at the drawing of the car there's a spot for batteries. If they line the whole length of the tube with solar panels and connect them to the ends where they can charge the batteries, then the cars only need to run off the batteries and they can be charged when they're at the end reloading. That sounds pretty tough to pull off to me, but this guy also runs a state of the art electric car company, so I'm not going to call anything impossible.

Guest said:

Ignoring friciton and losses, quick back of the envelope calculation: kinetic energy of 1000kg going at 1000mph = 100, 000, 000J.

Amount of energy required to raise 1L of water from freezing to boiling: 500,000J.

I'm quite sure we are capable of boiling 2000L of water if we want to.

Guest said:

Air powered would rather see in advances in magnetic powered transport

1 person liked this | ImThat1Guy said:

This sounds idealistically wonderful and I would enjoy seeing something like this in my life time to enjoy.

I still wonder what is the capacity? If it cannot meet the demand the prices will go up, or if there is a long wait time to use the pods you might find yourself having to take an alternate mode of transport.

2880 people per hour per direction (24 per pod * 2 pods/minute * 60 minutes/hour). Compare this with HSR, which ranges between 15K and 20K per hour generally; Britain's HS2 under construction will have the capacity to send 26,600 people per hour out of London, with a train every 4 minutes.

benken2202001 said:

From the diagram, it doesn't seem to utilize a vacumn, but rather air cushion and magnetic propulsion. think of a high-speed elevator in a modern skyrise, but going horizontally this time. The hardest part is going to be sustaining constant capacity at the ends. Is it going to be a loop style (like a ski-chairlift) Or are the "tube" stations going to be similar to grand central stations where several tubes fill up and you can launch them within seconds of each other along the same rails, or in this case, tube.

cmbjive said:

Well if you have 400 Miles of solar panels, I'm fairly certain anything is possible.

Not to mention the fact that your equation above doesn't account for vacuum. Vacuum is supposedly the main key in removing friction, which allows for less power requirements.

But the sun's power would not be constant over that 400 mile stretch. Also, if he is relying on battery technology you have to remember that the larger a mass the greater amount of energy it is going to consume. I don't think battery technology has advanced that far to where it can reliably be used to power that large of mass.

If they line the whole length of the tube with solar panels and connect them to the ends where they can charge the batteries, then the cars only need to run off the batteries and they can be charged when they're at the end reloading. That sounds pretty tough to pull off to me, but this guy also runs a state of the art electric car company, so I'm not going to call anything impossible.

I'm still skeptical about the long term success of Tesla Motors, but then I'm skeptical of any car that solely relies on battery technology. The concept sounds fine on paper; I'm just having trouble seeing as how it translates into practice.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Great way to start jobs again throughout the world everyone could be working and building these inner connecting tubes which are needed for this new transportation system.

Construction Workers (building)

IT Contractors (networking, computer systems)

Security (police)

Etc.

Everyone can get back to work again.

Take all these pet projects sending robots to Mars and take those billions and get everyone back to work.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

....[ ]....Honestly though, I'm just jealous because the only thing my city has that SF doesn't is snow.
Does that include a truly outrageous "Gay Pride Parade"?

....[ ]....Take all these pet projects sending robots to Mars and take those billions and get everyone back to work.
What an imagination and ardor for the sound of his own voice does Mr. Musk have, ey? Wouldn't the government have to print imaginary billions of dollars in "currency" to sync up with him?

Hey wait, maybe they put up an IPO allowing Bitcoins".

Railman said:

As someone with quite a lot of knowledge of railway projects I cannot understand why this revolutionary systems has been quoted as being considerably cheaper than conventional rail. How can you confidently predict the cost of the Hyperloop when no prototypes exist? The closest comparative system would be the various maglev projects. I don't think they are cheaper than conventional rail.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.