A high-speed train that floats and whizzes through a tunnel, shuttling its passengers exponentially faster than ever before.
Sounds like something you’d see in a futuristic sci-fi movie, right?
Tell that to Elon Musk.
The billionaire entrepreneur is the brains behind revolutionary companies such as Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and PayPal.
Now, Musk is revolutionizing public transport, with “Hyperloop”, a space-age transit system that can whisk passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles (a distance of over 600km) in approximately 30 minutes.
Barreling down a steel tube, reaching speeds of 1,200 km per hour (nearly 750mph), the ultra-fast system promises to be a game-changer, and break current standing records. It’s been described as “a cross between a Concord, a rail gun, and an air hockey table.”
The initial eight-kilometer pilot project is expected to break ground early next year in Quay Valley, a proposed renewable energy-fueled city in King’s County, California. Not only does Musk say it will be fast, and safe, but it will be environmentally-friendly, being 100 per cent solar-powered.
The way it works is this: a series of capsules hover inside a long tube (the Hyperloop doesn’t run on tracks). As a result, it can run above or below ground. It boasts less resistance and can travel very fast, with very little energy…largely because its design is similar to a plane flying at higher altitudes.
Check out this video that explains (in a bit more detail) the technology behind “Hyperloop”:
The price tag for the project has been the subject of much debate. Musk insists a passenger-only version of the Hyperloop will cost an estimated $6-billion (or $7.5-billion for a system that can also transport vehicles). Some critics (including The New York Times) say this is a gross undervaluation of the actual project, alleging the cost of designing, developing, constructing and testing the revolutionary transport system would cost approximately $100-billion. Others worry how a transit system like this would far in earthquake-prone California.
If Musk’s track record is any indication – of making the impossible possible – the negative backlash most likely will not derail plans. It’s really just one more setback. In the meantime, we’ll be monitoring this story closely as it continues to unfold…