Meet Hyperloop what could be the future of domestic travel

first_img Share Facebook Twitter Linkedin Pinterest Reddit Flipboard Hyperloop, the rapid transit system teased by billionaire investor Elon Musk is going to be unveiled today at 4:30pm. The high speed transportation system has been the topic of speculation for weeks, after Musk tweeted about its pending announcement, talked about it during a Tesla earnings call, and highlighted one engineer’s particularly accurate guess about its design.Musk started off the rampant speculation by saying that Hyperloop would be a “cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table.” This led to people creating diagrams and drawing comparisons to both the ET3 transportation project and the Rand Corporation’s 1972 plan for the Very High Speed Transit System (VHSTS) across the United States.A common theme among these projects is that none have been brought to fruition, and though Musk has publically stated that he won’t be the person that builds Hyperloop, today he will reveal the idea and, presumably, make it available to an organization that will (after proper vetting by internet pundits and armchair engineers that is). While the plan seems inherently far-fetched, it’s coming from a man who founded a private space company so, to this point, calls of this being well-publicized vaporware have been minimal.The big reveal is at 430pm, likely on Musk’s Twitter feed. Stay tuned. It’s past 430pm and Mr. Musk has not updated his feed, but Businessweek seems to have been given the exclusive. It’s being reported that there is a wider conference call at 5pm where more information will be revealed. The BW story noted that Musk published a blog post, but it is not available yet.Update: Here is Musk’s blog post. It lays out everything the Businessweek stories explained and included an extremely details PDF which will answer all your questions about the project.Musk released a PDF packed with data, diagrams, and artist renderings. First off, Musk noted that Hyperloop, in theory, could transport cars as well as people. A car would “just drive on” the same way a person would enter a transportation pod. This would be a challenge, of course, and not just for obvious reasons. Musk also confirmed that Hyperloop would have to be elevated in order to keep the path from station to station as direct as possible but also to avoid right-of-way issues with property owners. For those concerned with safety, it’s said that the Hyperloop design would incorporate an emergency brake which would be able to stop a pod in a matter of about five miles, keeping it apart from other pods, regardless of their 700+ mph speeds.Using the popular example of San Francisco to Los Angeles, the total cost would be in the realm of $6B to $10B, with the upper figure being projected if the system could transport automobiles and the lower for just people pods. This is something like one tenth the cost of the proposed California high speed rail system, which would theoretically take about the same amount of time to build.What a pod could look like.And finally, what we all wanted to really know, how does it work? Basically, early guesses weren’t too far off: Hyperloop travels in a low-pressure tube (not a vacuum), in order to reduce drag and increase maximum speeds without consuming huge amounts of power. The pod inside is standing on top of skis, made of an alloy known as inconel, through which air is pumped, just like the reverse of that air hockey table Musk mentioned. Forward movement would be provided by the coolest part of all, an electric turbo compressor which sucks in air from the front and pumps it out of the skis while a electromagnetic pulse system pushes the whole apparatus forward.Comparisons will be made to roller coasters — Space Mountain in particular, thanks to an unfortunate quote in the article — but this does still seem like an interesting possibility and something that wouldn’t be impossible to pull off. That’s not to say it’s any more possible than a $60 or $70B high speed rail system, but the use of technology here — particular in keeping the tube system relatively inexpensive — does have potential.If you want more information, here’s the full 57-page PDF. Elon MuskEt3hyperloopSpaceXtravellast_img read more

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