Share

'Hyperloop' Would Link LA-SF in 30 Mins, If Built

August 12, 2013

An image released by Tesla Motors, is a sketch of the Hyperloop capsule with passengers onboard. (AP Photo/Tesla Motors)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Imagine stepping into a car-sized capsule in downtown Los Angeles and, 30 minutes later, emerging in San Francisco.

On Monday, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled a transportation concept that he said could whisk passengers the nearly 400 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes — half the time it takes an airplane.

If it's ever built.

His "Hyperloop" system for travel between major cities would use a large tube. Inside, capsules would float on air, traveling at over 700 mph. The air would be sucked by a powerful fan at the front and expelled at the rear.

(MORE: Six Energy-Efficient Airports)

"Short of figuring out real teleportation, which would of course be awesome (someone please do this), the only option for super fast travel is to build a tube over or under the ground that contains a special environment," Musk wrote in his proposal, posted online.

The system Musk envisions is not unlike the pneumatic tubes that transport capsules stuffed with paperwork in older buildings.

In this case, the cargo would be several people, reclining for the ride.

Coming from almost anyone else, the hyperbole would be hard to take seriously. But Musk has a track record of success. He co-founded online payment service PayPal, electric luxury carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. and rocket-building company SpaceX.

Monday's unveiling lived up to the hype part of its name.

Leading up to the unveiling, done on the SpaceX website, online speculation was feverish. Musk has been dropping hints about his system for more than a year during public events, mentioning that it could never crash and would be immune to weather.

Colorado-based company ET3 has been working on a similar project for the last few years, called the Evacuated Tube Transport system. It uses two tubes — one for each direction — with 400-pound passenger-sized capsules that could house six people, each accelerated by linear electric motors.

Last month, ET3 CEO Daryl Oster told Weather.com that state trips would average 370 mph, while international trips could ultimately hit 4,000 mph. The company said it is planning a 3-mile test run of a prototype by the end of the year.

However, there's no word yet if ET3 would become a partner on the Hyperloop project.

During a Tesla earnings call on Thursday, Musk said he is too focused on other projects to consider actually building the Hyperloop.

"I think I kind of shot myself by ever mentioning the Hyperloop," he said. "I don't have any plans to execute, because I must remain focused on SpaceX and Tesla."
He said he would fulfill his commitment to publishing an open-source design, meaning anyone can use it and modify it.

The Associate Press contributed to this report.

MORE: Evacuated Tube Transport System

A mockup of the tube and seating module for the E3 project was displayed at DaVinci Institute, a non-profit futurist think tank in Colorado. Brenda Oster, wife of ET3 CEO Daryl Oster, gives a demonstration. (ET3)


Featured Blogs

Record Warmth in Northeastern Canada, Record Cold in Northern Ireland

By Christopher C. Burt
August 26, 2014

August has continued the July pattern of anomalously warm weather in Canada’s far eastern regions with a new all-time record high of 22.7°C (72.9°F) measured at Resolution Island, Nunavut on August 23rd. In contrast, Northern Ireland observed its coldest August temperature on record the morning of August 24th with a -1.9°C (28.6°F) reading.

Cristobal a Hurricane; Little Change to 97L

By Dr. Jeff Masters
August 26, 2014

It doesn't look much like hurricane, but the Hurricane Hunters measured surface winds around 75 mph on Monday evening and Tuesday morning in Hurricane Cristobal, making it the third hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. These missions proved the value of hurricane hunter flights, since there is no way that we would have known Cristobal was a hurricane based on satellite data. The storm is stretched out in a long line of heavy thunderstorms, has no eye or low-level spiral bands, and is giving early August's Hurricane Bertha some stiff competition for ugliest Atlantic hurricane of the century.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.