Elon Musk's Hyperloop Aims To Revolutionize Transportation


  • Hyperloop Picture

    Hyperloop Picture

    Hyperloop. | August 12, 2013

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Just the Facts:
  • Tesla's Elon Musk revealed details about his mysterious Hyperloop rapid-transit system on Monday, saying "short of figuring out real teleportation," this may be the only option for "super-fast travel."
  • Hyperloop is designed to transport people, vehicles and freight between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes.
  • Musk called Hyperloop a "low priority" compared to his companies SpaceX and Tesla Motors, but said he was open to building a prototype and investing some of his own money in the project.

PALO ALTO, California — Tesla's Elon Musk revealed details about his mysterious Hyperloop rapid-transit system on Monday, saying "short of figuring out real teleportation," this may be the only option for "super-fast travel."

The futuristic-looking Hyperloop is designed to transport people, vehicles and freight between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes.

The system consists of a low-pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds through the length of the tube. The capsules are supported on a cushion of air and the ride would "feel like being in an airplane," Musk said. He earlier described the system as a "cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table."

The Hyperloop abstract suggested this might be a "fifth mode" of transportation after planes, trains, cars and boats.

"I'd like to see something like this happen," Musk told reporters in a conference call. "It would be cool to see a new form of transport happen."

The debut of Hyperloop was heavily hyped, with many observers predicting that Musk's new project will "end up revolutionizing transportation a second time," if Hyperloop ever became a reality. Musk's musings on the conference call were striking, since virtually no automotive executives have encouraged the building of mass-transit systems.

Musk called Hyperloop a "low priority" compared to his companies SpaceX and Tesla Motors, but said he was open to building a prototype and investing some of his own money in the project. He calculated that a working version of Hyperloop was seven to 10 years away.

"I'm not going to make a ton of money on this, but I would like to see it come to fruition," said Musk, an entrepreneur who is a member of Forbes 2012 Richest Green Billionaires list.

Hyperloop was designed by Musk and a team of engineers drawn from two of his companies, SpaceX and Tesla Motors. The system may incorporate parts from the Tesla Model S, Musk noted, including the induction motor and battery pack.

Musk calculates that Hyperloop would cost $6 billion, with passenger tickets priced around $20 for a one-way ticket — much less than the cost of an airline ticket.

Earlier in the day, Musk tweeted that he had "pulled (an) all nighter" racing to get the Hyperloop abstract finished.

"The authors recognize the need for additional work," the abstract noted.

Musk calls Hyperloop an "open-source transportation concept."

"The authors encourage all members of the community to contribute to the Hyperloop design process," according to the Hyperloop abstract. "Iteration of the design by various individuals and groups can help bring Hyperloop from an idea to a reality."

Feedback can be e-mailed to hyperloop@spacex.com or hyperloop@teslamotors.com.

Musk took pains to reassure doubters that Hyperloop would be safe, even in an area prone to earthquakes.

"It's extremely difficult for it to crash," he said, adding that it can't be "derailed as a train can."

"It is also likely that in the event of a severe earthquake, Hyperloop capsules would be commanded remotely to actuate their mechanical emergency braking systems," the abstract said.

Edmunds says: At the very least, Elon Musk is a master at disrupting the status quo — and making people think.

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