Elon Musk Hyperloop Details To Be Announced Aug 12 (Best Guess Below)

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On Twitter, Elon Musk recently announced that the Alpha design for his Hyperloop high-speed transport concept would be available by August 12, and that suggestions are appreciated. Here’s the tweet:

Elon also said that this would be an open source project. (The point of open source projects is to enable anyone to build on and improve them, but without greedily taking control of them in order to prevent others from distributing them.)

The Hyperloop concept might use MAGLEV propulsion (Magnetic levitation), and it has been stated that the Hyperloop should be able to go up to about 1,000 miles per hour. MAGLEV propulsion is literally frictionless, as MAGLEV vehicles do not rub or roll against any solid materials. Remove air from the equation, and the concept becomes extremely fast and extremely efficient, but with only 1G of force, keeping passengers as comfortable as possible (although I do know that many people love riding in high-speed vehicles because of their high G force). But we’re yet to find out if Musk’s idea really includes MAGLEV technology.

“The system would, according to Musk, be able to travel from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes,[2] or 343 miles (552 km) at more than 685 mph (1,102 km/h)[3],” the Wikipedia article on the Hyperloop states. “Musk first announced the Hyperloop in July 2012 at a PandoDaily event in Santa Monica, California.[4] Musk estimated the cost of the SF-LA Hyperloop would be about US$6 billion, one tenth as costly as the proposed high speed rail serving those cities. He has revealed that the Hyperloop is not the same as a vacuum tunnel.[5]

The guess at Elon’s design that Elon has said is most similar to what he has worked up is here:

Credit: Tinker / @John_Gardi

All the modes of transportation in mainstream use today were developed decades ago and have been in use for decades — trains, buses, cars, and bikes have been around for more than a century.

They all have their benefits and drawbacks, but they are facing growing problems, as well as some of the same old problems they had from day one. For typical, personal, gasoline-powered cars, these include extremely high cost of ownership, high accident risk, and low efficiency.

How many times are people killed in train, ship, or plane accidents compared to personal cars? Not many. Yet cars are widely used for intercity travel. One way to make inherently safes public transit the norm is to make it better than personal car transit. For example: high speeds and much comfort… at an affordable price.

This is more difficult than it sounds, as everything comes at a cost. However, the Hyperloop concept is claimed to be about 1/10 of the cost of high-speed rail, despite being about 20 times faster. We’ll see.

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Nicholas Brown

Has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

Nicholas Brown has 594 posts and counting. See all posts by Nicholas Brown

11 thoughts on “Elon Musk Hyperloop Details To Be Announced Aug 12 (Best Guess Below)

  • My guess is that Hyperloop is not based on maglev technology. But it is similar to air hockey table where air pressure forms frictionless cushion. Also he has said that acceleration is based on rail-gun architecture and it is not the same thing as maglev acceleration. Rail-guns do not use superconductive materials in magnetic field, but they use direct electric propulsion.

    Besides, 1200 km long maglev track would be quite expensive. Maglev trains are not very economical.

    However, I think that exact details are difficult to conclude from Elon’s cryptical remarks. Only Elon Musk can describe something revolutionary at most detailed level as cross between concorde, rail gun and air hockey table and the whole media takes him seriously!

    • Yes, I think the ideas is Concorde == really really fast

  • If this hyperloop concept were coming from any person other than Elon Musk, I’d be skeptical. Elon Musk makes Wile E. Coyote look like a regular genius.

    • Apparently you need to spend more time watching cartoons….

  • This is great and all, but how in the world would this be a cheaper alternative than high-speed rail? If anything, it looks even more infrastructure-intensive.

    • A bunch of us are waiting to hear that issue addressed.

      Were it anyone but Elon I’d declare it BS and move on. But the guy has a very impressive track record.

      (Of course Linus Pauling had a great track record as well. And then he dove into the silly pool.)

    • I am not really sure it is necessarily more infrastructure heavy than high-speed rail. High-speed rail) or any rail, but high-speed even more so needs a heavy foundation of gravel and quiet precisely designed parallel steel rails plus power supply and soundproofing walls when crossing certain areas. All train cars need heavy suspension an need to be built very rugged.

      If you throw all previous designs over board it might very well turn out that a novel carriage design might be a lot cheaper. If it levitates there is no need to have suspension or design everything to withstand permanent vibration to prevent failure through fatigue. This will make the carriage a lot lighter as well. The same is true for the foundation, no vibrations=less damage, cheaper construction.

      If you pre built all the parts in a single place and just dump them on the site and hook them up you are a lot faster and cheaper in deploiment. We will have to wait for his ideas though. But I am excited.

      • If it’s a <10' diameter tube mounted on pillars above existing interstate medians, something like that, the materials cost for the tube could be high but there would be significant savings on real estate/routing.


      • Maybe (like solar, or wind power) the upfront costs are expensive, but the long term savings in energy needed by the maglev system would outweigh the upfront costs. (among other benefits, like saving time on travel)… Just guessing here, don’t know much about maglev technology…

  • After this was all announced, I ended up making a 3D model of how it might work and trying to include all the hints that were said. Here is the link to the video. I am really looking forward to seeing what Musk and his group comes up with! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa5m-CEuum4

  • Looping Ho!!!

    “But, whereas Musk has previously mentioned he’d like to see it in California, it’s now being reported that the project will see the light of day in the State of Israel.

    The project will be the the result of a collaboration between Israel’s Ministry of Transportation, Better Place, and Japanese Taigo. The loop will cost some $10 billion, and its first route will run from Tel Aviv to Eilat, in seven minutes, no less!

    While the exact details of the route could not be published, Geektime learned that the beta period of the project will see an actual driver supervise the train, with this ending in November 2015 and the route becoming completely automatic. The Hyperloop is based on pods that hold 10 passengers, with 10 pods leaving the station every 30 seconds (meaning 100 passengers every 30 seconds), taking 7:06 minutes to travel to Eilat, and 7:07 to travel back.

    No more one-hour flights, no more 6-hour drives.”


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