For anyone who thought the Tesla Model S was quick, company chief Elon Musk is thinking of a transportation alternative that could make his signature EV feel downright sloth-like. It's called the "Hyperloop."

Musk talked about this idea with PandoDaily's Sarah Lacy a year ago, but now Yahoo! is reporting more details: it involves six-person "capsules" being shot through a nearly friction-less tube via magnetic levitation. Colorado-based ET3 is trying to develop what it calls "Evacuated Tube Transport" that would reach mind-blowing speeds. How fast? ET3 is throwing out some pretty outrageous numbers, envisioning a system in which the capsules could reach 4,000 (!) miles per hour. That means that instead of the $70 million high-speed rail project that will ferry people between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about three hours, Hyperloop travelers could do the trip in well less than the time it takes to watch a sitcom. New York to LA? Less than an hour.

ET3 says it's planning a short, three-mile test run by the end of the year. Of course, at 4,000 miles per hour, those three miles would be covered in, oh, about four seconds. Any disbelieving folks can check out ET3's website here and a short, animated video below. And skeptics should remember that Musk is already sending things into space, so maybe this Hyperloop isn't as far-fetched as it sounds.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 121 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Better article: http://www.gizmag.com/how-does-elon-musk-hyperloop-work/27757/
      purrpullberra
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not to be a negative nancy but this is stupid. Not just the lame story Danny wrote conflating two entirely different, entirely insane, ideas that are somewhat similar. Another enormous FAILURE Danny, quite a record you're building up, so sad. But even dumber than the article is the idea that's so poorly reported on. First of all, casually throwing in video of the 9-11 attacks during a sales pitch(?) is so highly questionable that I can't give these people any benefit of doubt. Especially when they mention a half TRILLION dollars in private investment just as casually as if it's ever been done before. But ok... a couple of issues among hundreds I have. What about all the people that want to go places not on those three(?) routes? How many effing tubes will there be when these go 'everywhere'? Referencing the space race is a sure sign you're talking about something far too big for even the largest governments to take on. It is certifiably insane people who talk like this. (GIZA) And, how precise would automated production have to get to just pump out that 'track' in that amount? And the energy to build it all comes from where? The materials? Then the right-of-way issues, some stupid christian will come up with something unholy about it plus the environmental studies alone will take a decade in every single jurisdiction. I have very purposefully stayed away from this stupid hyperloop thing since I'd rather not lose a lot of respect for Elon. I'm treating the hyperloop as if it were some batsh1+ crazy girlfriend of his who would eventually ruin him if he wasn't careful but who at the moment seems to be working for him. My small investment is up nearly 10k, I'll let the occasional BS go for now. It's an idea as grand and brilliant as a space elevator, a hydro-dam across Gibraltar and mile-high skyscraper-cities. And it is equally feasible with them too. 100% no go on this stuff in our lifetimes I'm afraid.
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @purrpullberra
        " some stupid christian will come up with something unholy about it" Where did that come from?
        Rob Mahrt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @purrpullberra
        Lol, someone in 1825: "What the hell are these people thinking laying these train tracks... what are they going to do... put these track EVERYWHERE? That is just crazy talk." Someone in 1900: 'Well these cars are pretty cool, but there are only 2 roads, how the hell am I supposed to drive anywhere? This will never work." If you can onestly get to NY to LA in 30 minutes.. and if it costs $100 or $200 for a round trip... and it is physically possible, I would bet it is going to happen sooner or later. The alternate routes will come in time.
        archos
        • 2 Years Ago
        @purrpullberra
        I don't know what the heck you're talking about. Judging from your confused and nonsensical remark I don't believe you've invested a dollar in anything. The Keystone pipeline is a MUCH more controversial project and yet it would only need a government stamp of approval to go forward, but you don't seem to think a project probably more comparable to a monorail in environmental impact can make it in a single state? What industry do you work in? Airline? US military creates fake online personas The US military awarded a contract for software to create 500 fake personas on social networks in order to secretly influence online debate in its favour, it has been reported. The $2.76m contract was won by Ntrepid, a Californian firm, and called for an “online persona management service” that would enable 50 military spies to manage 10 fake identities each. The personas should be “replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent”, a US Central Command (Centcom) tender document said. It added: “Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. “Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms. The project would be based at MacDill Air Force base in Florida, The Guardian reported. The contract was first revealed by The Raw Story, a US news website. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8388603/US-military-creates-fake-online-personas.html
        • 2 Years Ago
        @purrpullberra
        @purrpullberra , RE poor reporting: we agree. RE 9-11 – Even though terror and 'acts of god' (for instance tornadoes) account for less than 1% of transportation deaths, many people are unreasonably focused on them, so it was addressed in a video. RE $500B private investment: this is a very small percentage of the existing private investment in aircraft, cars, trains, etc. The important factors to attract private investment are: low risk, and high rate of return. ET3 offers both. The $500B investment mentioned in the video is NOT upfront investment, but incremental, and the likely savings produced (trillions) is also mentioned. RE only three routes: The 53k miles of the US interstate highway system is only 2% of the paved roads in the US but it carries 60% of passenger miles and ton miles of road travel. One ET3 tube at 'only' 350mph design speed has the capacity of 20 freeway lanes, yet the cost is about half the cost of one lane. Ignoring this ET3 capacity advantage, the entire freeway network in the US could be duplicated with an investment of about $160B. If 300mph to 600 mph ET3 networks are built to the same standard in every state and nation, they can eventually be networked together at speeds up to 4k mph. For speeds beyond about 600mph, ET3 will mostly be underground, and cost at least three times more than above ground ET3. 4K mph ET3 MUST be underground, and have active alignment. This will likely cost 10 times as much as typical 400mph ET3 network; but it will take less than 15,000 miles to connect 60% of the worlds population, and 90% of production centers. RE automated production capacity: Pipelines in the US already carry more ton miles than trucks on roads, and this ignores the billions of tons of water and sewage transported invisably by pipelines (many big enough for a bus to drive in). Automated production capacity already exists, much can be modified to build ET3. The growth of ET3 will be incremental just like railroads, highways, airports, and the internet. RE energy to build: Detailed studies prove that the material and construction energy required to build ET3 along a typical freeway alignment will be recovered in about a month or two of fuel savings for freeways with enough demand to justify 3 lanes (max capacity for 2 lanes in each direction). High speed rail (HSR) by contrast takes about 30 years to recover construction and material energy. RE environmental impact studies: California CARB with AB32 and SB375 waives most EIS requirements for technologies that reduce GHG production. (ET3 can accomplish 50 times more transportation per ton of carbon production than electric cars or trains). RE Christian resistance: Perhaps some fringe groups will resist ET3, but ET3 has nothing to do with religion. Over 30% of the 247 ET3 licensees are Christian; and Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, and atheists are significantly represented in the ET3 Global Alliance consortium without prejudice.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @purrpullberra
        @purrpullberra , RE 'hyperloop': Since Musk has not specified what 'hyperloop' is, I can only explain that our patented ET3 system can accomplish more than Musk claims for 'hyperloop', and we at ET3 Global Alliance Inc. have over 300GB of files that prove how we are implementing our global vision.
          purrpullberra
          • 8 Months Ago
          Wow, nice to talk to you. I must say at this point that I'd love for this to work. I really would. I am all for moving as much transport as possible to regular rail so I see the benefits of a system like this. I'll check again but I saw the CRASH of 9-11, terrorism could've been mentioned w/o being so insesitive. I'm not personally offended and I am not sensitive to the images myself. I still have a huge problem with showing that, anyway. Could you address right-of-way issues? Has any other private project ever tried to raise that kind of money? I know how the highways work. I just can't see these things everywhere. People SHOOT GUNS AT THE ALASKAN OIL PIPELINE. How is this going to crisscross the US without being ruined? The highways are largely a mess. On the building of the lines: what other products are built to incredible, swiss-watch tolerances that are still affordable? Even if it is physically possible that doesn't mean people can actually properly build a whole network. Car/truck fuel savings can't power factories. California and other states make energy intensive factories shut down at times. Your project may not be worthy of scarce electricity. And that California is stupid enough to waive environmental impact issues that doesn't mean there aren't terrible environmental consequences. The citizenry will oppose you on that. The christians comment is about pervasive religiosity shoving it's know-nothing-but-faith attitude onto civic secular life. I occasionally throw it in to remind people religion is simply a bad personal decision not a reason to rule over and be judgmental of everything. I, too am skeptical of Elon on this one. And I recognize that there are huge differences between the two ideas. I really appreciate you responding to me, I understand where you are coming from better. I hope I'm as clear about my skepticism.
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      Eh, this has nothing to do with Elon's hyperloop..
      bluepongo1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I imagine he'd get more investors if the Hyperloop was underground ( that top picture is N.I.M.B.Y. prone). Whoops!!...time to use the Evacuated Tube Transport to drop the kids off at the pool. ;-)
        Weapon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bluepongo1
        Underground would be suicide. It creates a lot of issues. Over ground is the safest method.
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Weapon
          Underground is actually pretty safe. The biggest problem with underground is the cost, which is why there's no way a long distance route is ongoing to be built underground.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Weapon
          I don't think there's really a "safe" way to travel at 4,000 mph on Earth.
          Ryan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Weapon
          I think safety and security will be big problems either way. Plus, keeping a very flat, straight, and level tube around the world seems like it won't be easy. Above ground you have high winds, storms, random bullets, and lightning. Below ground you have earthquakes, hard maintenance, and deterioration. I like the concept, just think it will be tough to implement. How fast could you stop from 4,000 mph if something happens to the tube in front of you?
      k3ith
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sure it might work, but how much is it going to be per mile? How much is something like ET3? How much is Maglev? TGV style high speed rail? Acela style somewhat faster rail? This is the comparison that will determine whether this has any chance of getting built.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @k3ith
        Down load https://docs.google.com/file/d/0ByaWXWiohpx6ckdvLUpnYjF4Vjg/edit?usp=sharing it shows such a compairison. Elevated (18' off the ground) ET3 tubes operating at design speeds in the 400mph range will cost less than a tenth as much as elevated HSR. ET3 vehicle cost is a tenth as much as train cost on a per seat basis, and the capacity is much more granular. Also, 400mph ET3 passenger/hour capacity is over 10 times greater than train track capacity.
      BipDBo
      • 2 Years Ago
      1G = 9.81 meter/second/second = 53.7 mile/hour/second Therefore: 4000 mile/hour / (53.7 mile/hour/second) = 74.5 seconds Time it would take to get to 4000 mph at 1G Distance traveled in that time: 41.4 miles
      • 2 Years Ago
      An idea :) Place hi-res webcams on top of the tubes each 75m, transimt the pictures to a screen in front in each capsule, and the travellers can experience a real time 25fps video of the 6400km/h trip.... Makes the trip less claustrophobic, and something I would have payed 4x the ordinary price to experience :)
      purrpullberra
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't know what you're talking about either. keystone pipeline is not in the discussion but is unnecessary and incapable of helping lower gas prices. the military stuff is beyond anything I care about, sorry.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Some say that ET3 will cost more than high speed rail (HSR) (maglev or conventional). This is not true. ET3 will likely cost less than 1/10th as much as HSR, and less than 1/30th as much as trains operating in reduce pressure tunnels (such as SwisMetro). download: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0ByaWXWiohpx6ckdvLUpnYjF4Vjg/edit?usp=sharing for a side-by-side comparison of cost factors that relate to ET3 and the Transrapid maglev train. NOTE: there are many additional reasons that ET3 will cost less than trains, such as economy of scale of the small 4-6 seat capsules that only weigh 400lbs empty but haul the same 800 payload as a typical car. The per seat cost of HSR is about $70k/seat, ET3 will cost less than $7k per seat. (A 747 costs about $500k per seat).
        Nick Kordich
        • 8 Months Ago
        It's very interesting, and thank you for participating in the comment section of this blog - the spreadsheet link and the ET3.com site cleared up a great many misconceptions I had from the video (which you point out on ET3.com was not created by you and does not accurately represent the size of the capsules or tubes of the ET3 proposal). While I still have doubts, that's not unusual with ideas that require a paradigm shift (or even large and costly projects that don't, given the risks associated with them). One thing you may want to consider that is not reflected in the designs I've seen is offset opposing seating. In the six person capsules, I see you have two of the six passengers facing the opposite direction, but in all six seats, they're side by side. This puts their widest part directly across from one another. If instead people sat in a "New Hampshire/Vermont" sort of arrangement, you would have one passenger's shoulders across from the other passenger's feet. Since you're already accepting reverse seating (though I imagine some may find it less than ideal under acceleration), I think you'll find it has a number of benefits: 1. My shoulders and elbows never bump yours. Having ridden coach many, many times, I know I'd gladly trade four to six inches of width in my footwell for a like amount of space for my shoulders, arm rests and seats and have my head closer to the center of the capsule for more headroom. 2. By putting my shoulders across from your feet, I could have a shelf next to me without it impinging on your space - in the current side-by-side layout, the area over my feet seems like wasted space. A shelf mounted there would also be a place where a tablet-like display could be mounted for the other passenger. 3. Passengers would be seated facing their seatmate, but slightly offset. In the current design, you'd have to converse over a relatively long distance to the person you're sitting foot-to-foot with or you'd have to turn your head 90 degrees or twist in your seat to look at the person you're sitting next to, which is difficult in such tight quarters. In offset opposing seating, you're looking toward your seatmate, but about 15 degrees offset. As a result of that, you're closer to normal conversation distance, if you want to talk to your seatmate. If you don't want to talk, that angle means you're not facing directly at them, and it's easier for you to look out the virtual window (mentioned in the site's FAQ). It's harder to enter/exit through one door, and having the capsule open from both sides would mean greater cost and weight. If the capsule were to split along the middle, however, it might be even easier to design an airtight seal than the hinged door approach. Another option would be to have the capsule body be a sleeve where the end opens and the passenger compartment slides out.
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is nothing new and definitely not hyperloop.
      bearfriend
      • 2 Years Ago
      I can't believe this article hasn't been deleted yet. At least change the title and update it to reflect your idiocy and the fact that bit has nothing to do with Melon Musk. How are you not totally embarrassed by having posted this?
      BipDBo
      • 2 Years Ago
      OK, so there's an evacuated tube propelled by maglev, and then there's Elon's concept which has an air filled tube, which works like a bank's drive-up tube system. That's what I understand from the comments. Honestly, I don't see much of a point in a tube system that isn't evacuated. An air filled tube would probably still need magnetic levitation to avoid the problem of wheels. The air in the tube would be constantly moving at 4,000 mph, providing the propulsion. The biggest problem is that the viscous resistance of air traveling through thousands of miles of tube would be thousands of times greater than the viscous resistance over maybe 1 mile of train or a couple hundred feet of plane. Such a system would require an insane amount of power. Perhaps such a concept might work if it were partially evacuated, maybe to 1/100th of atmospheric pressure. Even then, it would still be fairly inefficient.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        ET3 is only "partially evacuated” a pure vacuum is mostly theoretical. Industrial 'roughing pumps' can remove 99.99999% of the air. There are billions of devices (such as old CRT style TVs that require a thousand times higher quality vacuum to function). The optimum vacuum level for ET3 is the vacuum level that produces the lowest total energy use. At 99% vacuum (1/100th of an atmosphere), it would take more energy to maintain the speed of the capsules than to maintain the vacuum. At 99.999999999999% vacuum, it would take more energy to maintain the vacuum than would be saved by reduced air drag.
          • 8 Months Ago
          Yes H2 and also He will leak into the tubes faster than N2 and O2 -- and they can be pumped out too -- Also the drag of such residual gasses is much less than for air. We have not evaluated the economic impact of using ET3 to produce H2 or He.
          DaveMart
          • 8 Months Ago
          @daryl: That still does not answer my point that a tube 1000 miles long is going to need a great deal more pumping than one 10 miles long, so you have no basis at all for your statement: 'At 99% vacuum (1/100th of an atmosphere), it would take more energy to maintain the speed of the capsules than to maintain the vacuum. At 99.999999999999% vacuum, it would take more energy to maintain the vacuum than would be saved by reduced air drag.' As the energy losses will vary by the length of the tube.
          • 8 Months Ago
          @DaveMart: You are talking about 2 separate things. You are correct: longer length equals more energy. Oster is talking about what level of vacuum you want to keep it. You're talking about how many pumps whereas he is talking about what power rating of pumps to choose. 2 separate points...
          brotherkenny4
          • 8 Months Ago
          So, approximately the vacuum that roughing pump can obtain. Also, the mantainance of a vacuum is determined by the leak rate which is determined by the seal materials and in welded, no seal, components by the diffusion of gases through the tube material. So I got into this discussion for this point. The practical vacuum level that can be obtained on the planet eart is determined by the diffusion rate of hydrogen through the vacuum container material. Hydrogen, even though only a small component in our atmosphere, is the lightest, smallest and fastest gas molecule, and it diffuses through all solid materials (most commonly, vacuum tanks are made of stainless steel). Think about that H2 fool cell proponents. If ever there is a hydrogen economy, there will be a huge addition of H2 to our atmosphere and there is nothing you would be able to do about it.
          • 8 Months Ago
          @DaveMart, the surface area of the tube is a factor in vacuum maintance, so is the number of capsules (a little air sticks to them and also some leaks out) . For refrence the LIGO observitory (1.3m dia X 3km long tube) is evacuated to a million times higher quality vacuume than targeted for ET3 yet had no measurable leaks for 2 years without the pump running. The much lower cost materials used for ET3 will leak more, but using more expensive materials would not produce a ROI due to less pumping.
          DaveMart
          • 8 Months Ago
          I don't know how you calculate those numbers. Surely the energy cost of maintaining the vacuum depends on the length of the tube?
          BipDBo
          • 8 Months Ago
          "If ever there is a hydrogen economy, there will be a huge addition of H2 to our atmosphere and there is nothing you would be able to do about it." I followed you up until this point. Fuel cell effluent would be H2O, not H2. If such a large tube could be built such that it leaked primarily just H2, maintaining that vacuum might be a source of H2, albeit probably not a huge source. Just a theoretical thought, though. This all seems to be a little overambitious sci-fi to me.
          DaveMart
          • 8 Months Ago
          brotherkenny: Get a life.
        Dave
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        Exactly. If its not evacuated, there is no reason to have a tube. There would be no advantage over a standard monorail system.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        The air is expected to be high pressure. Imagine an air hockey table wrapped into a cylinder... keeping the capsule from touching the walls. Also, the entire mass of air is expected to be moving down the tube at high speed. So air resistance is minimal since both the capsule and the air are moving together at the same speed. There is a good gizmod article I linked in a previous comment. There will need to be some innovative ways to get the capsule loaded and ramped up into the tube.
          Jon
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          What BipDBo is pointing out is that while there is no air resistance on the capsule itself, there is a ton of resistance between the air and the walls of the tube. You are not eliminating the resistance, just moving it. To make matters worse, the walls of the tube have way more surface area than any train, producing way more resistance. It will take lots of energy to keep the air (and thus the capsules) in the tube moving. The "hockey table" walls might change that a little but even if that reduces air resistance in the tube you still are expending lots of energy to pump air into the tube. Again, not eliminating the resistance, just changing where it is. I would have to agree, I dont see the point of a tube if it is not evacuated.
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Air resistance in a pumatic tube is much greater than cars, trains, or aircraft. The reason is that the entire surface of the tube is producing friction (not just the surface of the vehicle) -- it takes a lot of energy to move the air in a tube at high speed due to friction of the air against the surface of the tube. Pumping air through holes (like an airhocky table) in a tube would introduce more friction.
          Joeviocoe
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Maintaining a vacuum and magnetic field also requires constant energy. Surface area is not the main factor if air has laminar flow over the walls. What causes high air resistance in trains, is the pushing of air out of the way.. frontal surface area...and not the surface area of the sides which air can for smoothly without turbulence. There still needs to be proof of concept, but the idea has merit over a traditional bullet train.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X