Elon Musk’s Hyperloop ultra-fast tube transport closer to reality

28 Oct 2015

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop project aimed at transporting passengers between major US cities at immense speeds is about to take a major step closer to reality, with plans in place to build a test track in the coming weeks.

With planned speeds of 750mph aboard the system, Quay Valley in California has been chosen for Hyperloop’s test site.

It will take almost three years to complete construction of the five-mile circuit, which will essentially be a big tube that commuters whizz around in.

Now, it’s not planned to be akin to Futurama’s transportation systems, with passengers hopping into tubes willy nilly. Rather, carriages will populate the tubes and, within them, commuters will sit. So more like The Simpsons’ Monorail.

The capsules will contain pressurised air, while they will be supported on a cushion of air, with speeds potentially controlled by magnets. Costing $150m to complete, the testing site will transport 10m passengers throughout its trial stages.

Hyperloop track

Proposed test site for Hyperloop, via Dezeen

The 750mph speeds are only possible when capsules are empty, though, with a far more palatable 160mph transport speed for commuters at the moment.

When Elon Musk first spoke of this project, his plans were to transport people between Los Angeles and San Fransisco in just half an hour. The distance is 400 miles.

That has been reigned back a bit, it seems, as at 160mph it would take sluggish two-and-a-half hours, give or take.

Hyperloop sketches

Passenger capsules – 4.43 ft wide and 6.11 ft high, via Dezeen

“It is the closest thing to tele-transportation,” Hyperloop’s COO Bibop Gabriele Gresta told Dezeen. “We will crush every record on the ground.”

“You can substitute the entire flight industry from Los Angeles to San Francisco with one tube, four times.”

“Now if this will not disrupt the air industry I don’t know what will.”

Tunnel image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic