Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind the launch of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, has today lifted the covers off the Hyperloop, an insane new transport concept that could hurtle passengers through a tube around the US at near-supersonic speeds.
Working on a principle similar to that seen within old office buildings (where pneumatic tubes deliver paperwork between departments) the solar-powered Hyperloop would see passengers sit inside magnetically balanced capsules propelled along a cushion of air at top speeds of 760mph.
Musk is proposing the Hyperloop be used to transport commuters between the Californian cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, a 380 mile journey that theoretically would take only 30 minutes on the Hyperloop. Musk estimates the system would cost $6bn (£3.9bn) to build.
“Short of figuring out real teleportation, which would of course be awesome… the only option for superfast travel is to build a tube over or under the ground that contains a special environment,” stated Musk in a paper outlining the Hyperloop proposal.
A form of transportation preferable to air travel for journeys shorter than 1,000 miles according to Musk, he estimated a trip would cost just $20 (£13) making it an affordable method of transport too. With capsules potentially departing every 30 seconds, it has the potential to be a high-capacity system, with the concept also supporting the transportation of vehicles within the capsules too.
Requiring four years to build a demonstration model (something Musk is putting of while he focusses on his SpaceX endeavours), the Hyperloop could set alongside a regular Californian elevated motorway, negating the need for overly intrusive construction and avoiding land disputes.
It sounds like sci-fi stuff. But so did SpaceX, and so did Tesla. Musk has the vision and the money to see many wild ideas through to fruition, so don’t expect this to be the last you’ll hear of Musk’s Hyperloop concept.
Find Elon Musk’s full Hyperloop proposal embedded below.
By Gerald Lynch | August 13th, 2013