Hyperloop – Fast Transportation Using a Better Engineering Solution Than We Do Now

Posted on August 7, 2013  Comments (3)

Elon Musk (the engineer and entrepreneur behind Tesla electric cars and before that he helped create PayPal) has a very cool idea of how to provide fast long distance transportation (faster than a plane). Essentially it is a big version of pneumatic tubes that used to be used to send small packages around a building, as seen in the movie – Brazil :-) Details are scheduled to be released August 12th.

This Is How Elon Musk Can Build the Hyperloop for a Tenth the Cost of High-Speed Rail

Having a elevated Hyperloop main line also completely avoids or reduces many of the pitfalls of ground-level right-of-ways, and opens up some new opportunities as well:

  • The crossing of other right-of-ways, like roads and railways, will be a breeze.
  • Rivers and other terrain obstacles will only be a 10th the problem of rail construction.
  • Hyperloop can avoid tunnels completely by having more flexible choices of right-of-way.
  • An elevated right-of-way opens up new route options, like leasing farmer’s fields using contracts similar to what wind-power companies sign.
  • That could be paid for by leasing Hyperloop’s right-of-way to communications companies for fiber optic cables, cell phone towers, etc.
  • …and let’s not forget the solar power that a couple of square miles of surface area can generate!

Hype Builds Before Elon Musk’s August Alpha Plan for Hyperloop

The Hyperloop would transport passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in about 30 minutes and at about twice the average speed of a commercial jet. The system would be on-demand, cheaper than current alternatives, impossible to crash, and potentially, run entirely on solar power.

Travelers ride in pods magnetically accelerated and decelerated into the main tube (like a rail gun) where the air circulates at speed. The air between pods acts as a cushion, preventing crashes, while more air injected through perforations in the tube levitates the pods and reduces friction, much as it might on an air hockey table.

Elon Musk has some very good ideas but what really sets him apart is turning them into functioning enterprises. Great ideas are wonderful but a huge number never go anywhere. Those people that can actually get ideas into the marketplace are the people that provide a much greater standard of living for all of us. And many of them are engineers.

Update: link to his blog post announcement.

More examples of cool extreme engineering: Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-TunnelTransferring Train Passengers Without Stoppingtransatlantic tunnelWebcast on Machine That Bores Subway Tunnels

3 Responses to “Hyperloop – Fast Transportation Using a Better Engineering Solution Than We Do Now”

  1. Tim
    August 28th, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

    I read an article (I believe on WSJ.com) after the announcement which said that the biggest obstacle that Elon Musk will face with the Hyperloop isn’t the technology. Many people have begun believing that he really can build anything that he puts his mind to. The biggest problem he’ll face is all the bureaucracy – especially in California. He’s already facing government opposition with Tesla in Texas and South Carolina. A project of Hyperloop’s magnitude will have far too many politicians involved.

  2. Sahil burman
    November 4th, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

    I still think that hyperloop is the thing of future faar away from right now. I would not only take years to be there in front of us but would cost more than what they are claiming it would.

  3. Lisa Smith
    April 16th, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

    If making hyper loop is cost effective someone should have built it by now. I don’t think an entrepreneur would see an ROI for many years. Is it really worth building?

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