• Jul 12th 2013 at 5:00PM
  • 492
Lately, Elon Musk seems to be challenging every preconceived notion of transportation. First, he took the auto industry by storm when he introduced the electric-powered Tesla Roadster and later the all-electric Model S sedan, dubbed the "automobile of the year" by Automobile Magazine, as well as Motor Trend. Then his company SpaceX became the first privately owned company to send cargo to the International Space Station. Billionaire Pushes For Amazing 'Hyperloop' Tubes
Lately, Elon Musk seems to be challenging every preconceived notion of transportation. First, he took the auto industry by storm when he introduced the electric-powered Tesla Roadster and later the all-electric Model S sedan, dubbed the "automobile of the year" by Automobile Magazine, as well as Motor Trend. Then his company SpaceX became the first privately owned company to send cargo to the International Space Station.

Now, he is aiming to change the way we travel from city to city, and potentially around the globe, through a scheme that could cut down the travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco to about thirty minutes.

He calls the idea Hyperloop, describing it as a "cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table," at the D11 Conference in May.

"How would you like something that can never crash? It is immune to weather...it goes about, let's say, an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do," Musk told PandoMonthly during a video interview last July. "And it would cost you much less than an air ticket...much less than any other mode of transport because the fundamental entry cost is so much lower. And, I think, we could actually make it self-powering if you put solar panels on it."

Theoretically, Hyperloop tube travel would use magnets much like a bullet trains to take passengers from one destination to another at unheard of speeds. The difference is the enclosed tube, which would allow the capsule to travel without air resistance and very little friction. It is potentially safer, too, than a train that rides on a track with open sides.

The idea has gotten renewed attention after Yahoo! News published additional details earlier this week. Update: Musk revealed via Twitter that he "will publish Hyperloop alpha design" next month.
This idea, however, is hardly a new one.

Business Insider recently pointed to a 1972 report published by the Rand Corporation that details a similar idea. "The general principles are relatively straightforward: electromagnetically levitated and propelled cars in an evacuated tunnel," said the report's author R.M. Slater.

In an article we published last year, we introduced you to ET3.com, Inc., and their vision of tube transport that could theoretically take a traveller from Washington, D.C. to Beijing, China in around 2 hours.

According to ET3 the new tube transportation would be "Networked like freeways, the capsules are automatically routed like Internet traffic, yet a capsule can exit at any desired portal." The idea is that "car sized passenger capsules travel in 1.5m (5') diameter tubes on frictionless maglev...Linear electric motors accelerate the capsules, which then coast through the vacuum for the remainder of the trip using no additional power."

According to Musk, this would cut commute time from San Francisco to L.A. down to a mere 30 minutes, six times faster than current high speed trains, and around half the time of a flight, with (hopefully) much less hassle.

For more information on ET3, listen to this radio interview with the company's founder and CEO Daryl Oster from NPR's The Takeaway:



It may all sound like a "pipe dream," but Musk has increasing credibility with both the science/engineering and Wall Street/private equity communities. Two years ago, many doubted that his Tesla Motors electric-car company would succeed. After the company almost came apart due to management mistakes, quality issues and order fulfillment, Musk got investment from Toyota and a huge U.S. government loan. The company's Model S won the highly coveted Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2012, and the company's shares are trading near it's 52-week high of $133, a huge gain off its 52-week low of $25.52. Orders for the Model S are rolling in and the company is moving toward building a small battery-powered crossover vehicle. Its current market capitalization exceeds both Fiat and Peugeot.

Musk would also have credibility securing government loans for his Hyperloop scheme if he needs it as earlier this month he repaid over $400 million in Department of Energy loans he began receiving in 2010 for Tesla years ahead of time.

TRANSLOGIC 76: Elon Musk Interview, SpaceX

TRANSLOGIC Editor Adam Morath and AOL Autos Editor David Kiley contributed to this report.


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  • 492 Comments
      mgraphix
      • 2 Years Ago
      Adaption of greener technologies has momentum. Solar took a long time but it's now accelerated, same with hybrids, etc. It's inevitable; I hope I'm around to use it. Initially hubs like airports between major cities will give way to spur lines like the railroads connecting the country years ago. This day will come: when the golden translucent colored tube, the section which connects the first run (NY and LA) is lowered into place somewhere in the midwest, to commemorate the 'golden spike', of the first transcontinental rail service. Build it along current rail lines or interstates as much as possible to move materials easily to the site (obviously cornering this baby will take more space) . The railroads, rather than try to stop it to save their industries, will champion it and derive income from it. Flight will continue to serve the growing population of travelers and connect the places the tubes haven't gone yet. By then, commercial jets will be at mach 2. Cool future, folks. Dig it. Probably 15 years before the first one is built. Maybe more.
        mgraphix
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mgraphix
        oh yeah, Elon Musk rocks. Paid back his loan 9 years early.
      sunon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Elon Musk epitomizes cooperation between government and the private sector. government funded the scientists who theorized how to put man into space. government had the wherewithal and people in government the will to carry out the project. it's time now for government to provide the impetus for such as medical research, allowing the likes of Musk who will, more efficiently and economically, make space work for us.
      Moneypenney
      • 2 Years Ago
      What would happen if the pod developed a leak while in the vacuum sealed tube? It would be like a spacecraft in space leaking all the air out.
      Denise
      • 2 Years Ago
      soooo cool.. I been in the transportation industry 30 years I so want in on this!!! Inovation and creativity.. LOVE IT
      harrymorgan124
      • 2 Years Ago
      Musk is certainly a new generation of innovation and engineering. Space-X will certainly bring in revenues to start this new project plus government loans would be guaranteed as he already has proven he is not a sham operation. This is just the kind of thinking we need to clean up the atmosphere and slow global warming.
      • 2 Years Ago
      hey!! THIS IS MY IDEA!!! ALL THOUGH I HAD MUCH BIGGER TUBES FOR SHIPPING PRODUCTS AS WELL!!
      gloriamerl
      • 2 Years Ago
      We., July 17, 2013 10:52 A.M. EDT, second try on posting this: Wed., 17 July 2013 10:04 pm EDT. Did anybody else besides me hear the people's voices on the video at "growly speed?" After running the sound into my little SONY cassette tape recorder on its lowest speed and playing it back on its highest speed into Audacity (the free sound-engineering program), I could make out most of the words. I ran that back into my SONY on its lowest speed and gauged the playback speed into Audacity the second time around based on the timbre of the voices of Kennedy and Obama, and produced a sound track that works. At that point, I could begin the video, click on my Audacity icon at one second, click on Play in Audacity at two seconds, then take my time muting the video at 17 seconds, after which my soundtrack came in on time where Kennedy starts speaking. All that, just because whoever did this video screwed up and I wanted to hear the interview.
      • 2 Years Ago
      When will people with mega money actually do something constructive with it? I guess they find greed more interesting. Steve Jobs should not be referenced a role model for innovation. He's part of those who develop capitalistic schemes such as "engineered obsolescence," and $300 designer jeans.
        zooman808
        • 2 Years Ago
        You are so jealous! Capitalism beats socialism everytime.
          ovstampco
          • 2 Years Ago
          @zooman808
          Maybe Capitalism beats socialism but a hybrid political system sure beats capitalism , fascism and plutocracies ......
      • 2 Years Ago
      And they said the Titanic would never sink, it's a great concept but I don't know about not crashing.
      • 2 Years Ago
      My bank tellers loses suction in those vacuum tubes once a week, if it happens in hyperloop you may be stuck under china sea on the way to Beijing.
      waxhwdpatt
      • 2 Years Ago
      First of all, this is an old idea, with a new twist. Actually, the infrastructure already exists, just use the oil pipelines that we don't need anymore (tic). Seriously, each passenger can be in their own "container" flying down the pipeline. Those pipelines are huge. It wouldn't be expensive except when you get government involved. And since government controls ALL, this most likely won't get done without it costing taxpayers billions. How about using the high speed railroad idea and making a "caboose" that would disconnect, then stop, disengage passengers, pick up passengers, and then speed up to catch the next train going by as the next "caboose" was coming into the station? Oh, the government is involved. Not going to get done.
      gerald01612
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think this is great. Smash this up and you will never spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. In fact you wont't even need an urn. Your either in China in 2 hours or you are a vapor. Technology is wondrful.
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