Elon Musk, billionaire entrepreneur and chief executive of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, released a concept back in August for a high-speed transportation system called the “Hyperloop” that would take passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes.
He proposes a solar-powered, earthquake-resistant, pod-based transportation system that would take $6 billion and 10 years to build. This is in stark contrast to California’s high speed rail proposal–which Musk said he was “quite disappointed” with–that would cost $68 billion to build, taking passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that “Elon Musk’s Hyperloop will work, says some very smart software.” Ansys, a company that develops sophisticated transportation simulation software, has processed the Hyperloop specifications from Musk’s white paper and created a virtual mockup that was fed into the software. Sandeep Sovani, director of land transportation strategy, said the overall design of the Hyperloop was feasible, though it needed some tweaks.
This LA Times article’s title says it all: “Elon Musk’s Hyperloop: A pipe dream?” First, a $6 billion price tag? Seems a little too idealistic–the reconstruction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has a price tag of more than that ($6.3 billion). And Musk’s route doesn’t quite get passengers to San Francisco or Los Angeles–it stops in the East Bay and on the south end stops in the West Valley which can be more than an hour from downtown. Also, what would the price tag be for the extensive maintenance and security for such a system–not to mention the many engineering challenges and technical details involved….
But, it seems that others have been really inspired by his proposal: “Tinkerers jump on Elon Musk’s hyperloop plans” (AP) When Musk released his concept, he urged the public to improve on his sketch plans. And so the race is on! Firms are modeling the system with 3-D printing and testing out virtual Hyperloops with complicated computer software. And also, interested enthusiasts are discussing the proposal over beers (or ice cream). According to the article, the Hyperloop is doable, in principle. The concept involves several proven technologies–the pods, or capsules, would float on a thin cushion of air and use magnetic attraction and solar power to travel through an almost air-free tube. With so little wind resistance, it could top speeds of 700 mph and make the 400-mile trip in about 30 minutes.
And Wired reported the following: “3-D Printing Elon Musk’s Hyperloop in Less Than 24 Hours” People are really getting excited! The team at start-up firm Whiteclouds created a scale model of the Hyperloop with 3-D printers in less than 24 hours.