Let’s Talk About Hyperloop

Photo by Daniel Case. Some rights reserved.

Photo by Daniel Case. Some rights reserved.

Since it was announced earlier this week, the Internet has been abuzz with speculations about Elon Musk’s Hyperloop – a super-super-high-speed rail train that, performing as imagined, could carry passengers in 28-person capacity pods across the vast desert wasteland between San Francisco and Los Angeles at almost 800 miles per hour, resulting in a 30 minute trip time if conditions were perfect. Additionally, reports indicate that, theoretically, the g-force of such a trip would be similar to that of a standard airplane flight, and that the high speeds and (again, theoretically) comfortable seats would be like “riding on a cushion of air.” And speculative ticket prices, as indicated by Musk, would start at $20. Sounds good to me, sign me up!

Musk, the entrepreneur/mad scientist behind PayPal and Tesla Motors, unveiled the project in a 57 page plan that includes detailed information on the pods themselves (including mock-ups) and figures on cost, safety, etc. As Musk sees it, it would cost $6 billion to build, a figure many have expressed surprise at, considering the much higher speculative figures associated with other high rail projects currently being batted around, specifically the California high-speed rail project currently in development which many residents and experts have expressed skepticism about.

Musk, though, seems to have very little interest in bringing this project to fruition. He released his plans with no patents and has said to the press that he may build a prototype, but only if it seems like no one else is interested in doing it. It seems that, with running his private technologies company SpaceX along with Tesla Motors, Musk has left himself very little time for building enormous high-speed wondertrains on a shoestring budget. On the other hand, based on his success with Tesla, it certainly seems like Musk knows what he’s doing. So, if you’ve got $6 billion burning a hole in your pocket… However, some experts have expressed skepticism, as they always do, and the cheesy anchors of CNBC raise silly but valid point in this video: if you’re traveling at 800 miles an hour and you can’t get out of your seat, what do you do if you need to go to the bathroom?

Bloomberg has an exclusive interview with Musk, in which he goes into greater detail about the specifics and his hopes for the project.

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