Elon’s Hyperloop Is Being Secretly Built
Technology has leveled the playing field, and innovations happen every day.
It’s been a year since Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, ignored his naysayers and surprised the world with his conceptual high-speed transportation system that will let you travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco within 35 minutes. A preliminary design document was made public in August 2013, which included an estimate of a $6 billion construction cost for a passenger-only version of the system, while a version allowing for transportation of both passengers and vehicles was estimated at $7.5 billion. At that time, some people expressed doubts for Elon’s idea as too expensive, too slow, and too impractical.
Amazingly, a company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc (HTT) was formed this past September, with the collaboration of approximately 100 engineers from Boeing, NASA, and SpaceX. They have been working quietly for a while and making very solid progress with a prototype allegedly built-in by a group of 25 UCLA’s design and architecture students. The technical feasibility is supposedly to be completed by mid-2015.
Developments in high-speed rail, and in high-speed transport more generally, have historically been impeded by the difficulties in managing friction and air resistance, both of which become substantial when vehicles approach high speeds. The Hyperloop, a type of vactrain concept, theoretically eliminates these obstacles by employing magnetically levitating trains in evacuated or partly evacuated tubes/tunnels, allowing for ideal speeds of thousands of miles per hour.
Parallel with the design and technical sides, the HTT engineers are also spending a lot of time analyzing the potential routes that the Hyperloop system might take such as Los Angeles to Las Vegas — and, in the future, a network of hyperloops that span the entirety of the U.S. “It makes sense for things like L.A to San Francisco, New York to D.C., and New York to Boston,” said Elon Musk.
It’s true to conclude that many successful innovations begin with a user need. The innovator goes and looks for the user and looks for an application of the technology. The distance between concept and reality is now years apart instead of being decades apart as it was in the past.