Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, has unveiled his widely anticipated Hyperloop concept. On Monday, August 12, Musk let the world know that he intends to make it possible to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes. The Hyperloop is a solar-powered train in pod system that would allow passengers to safely and comfortably travel at speeds up to 900 mph.
Compared to the alternatives, the new form of transportation should be:
- Lower cost
- More convenient
- Immune to weather
- Sustainably self-powering
- Resistant to tremors and earthquakes
- Not disruptive to those along the hyperloop route
Musk points out that the current train route expansion plans for California are set to cost about $65 billion. Above the monumental costs, the train system that we are set to have will be one of the slowest high-speed train systems in the world. Unless subsidized, a ticket on one of these trains will be extremely high.
The Hyperloop, by comparison, would cost about $6 billion to fully develop, with the cost of the actual pods accounting for approximately 1% of the total budget, or about $54 million. An estimated 30 minute one way ticket from Los Angeles to San Francisco would cost around $20. This might not seem feasible to most, but the billionaire Musk has the resources and the ultimate explorative personality to explore such a radical idea. Musk isn’t all talk either. He released a detailed, 57 page report on how the Hyperloop would work, acknowledging that there flaws in his theory and encouraging reader response.
Musk had previously said that he is too busy to fully roll out his Hyperloop plan. Recently, he has been more open to working on the project more extensively, saying, “I’m somewhat tempted to build at least a demonstration prototype. I could do some scale version and hand it over to someone else…. I would like to see it come to fruition, and it might help if I did a demonstration article.”
This may be too tall a task even for an innovator like Musk to handle, but if he can manage to roll out a prototype that covers even a couple dozen miles, it would open the door to a completely new way of traveling. Fasten your seat belts, folks – this may pan out to become a nonstop flight to the future.