|Swoop out with the 'Loop out.|
(Image courtesy capitalbay.com.)
On paper, it almost seems like something out of a video game. Large tubes stretching across the land (initially slated for trials in California) would shoot passengers from, say, Los Angeles to San Francisco, speeding along at 750 miles per hour, dwarfing other forms of transportation and indeed, revolutionizing the way we think about all travel across the vastness of America. That L.A.-San Fran skip? 20 minutes. New York City to Philly? Barely enough time for you to update your social media that you're heading in, Hyperloop-style.
Though it is still in the planning stages, as Forbes reported today, the Hyperloop is official. Musk's team at Hyperloop Technologies have the funds, the brains, and the support both public and political to create these high-tech hamster tubes for humans. Referred to by Musk as "the fifth mode" (of man-made transport, after boats, trains, motor vehicles, and planes), the Hyperloop would have the speed of a plane, a price point lower than a train, and no emissions to further perturb our environment.
|Musk also said that if the Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table had a three-way, |
the Hyperloop would be its love child. Seriously.
(Image courtesy redorbit.com)
Much like Japan's famed maglev trains, the Hyperloop works via a series of continuously-placed linear induction motors, which create a "magnetic river" to propel the payload. Travelling in a near-vacuum, the Hyperloop vehicles will experience little drag, and will require lesser maintenance than other forms of transport. A giant compressor fan on the front of the vehicle pushes air away from the nose, enabling the tremendous speed: zero to 750 m.p.h. in under a minute.
While Musk is busy making SpaceX and Tesla the best they can be, one of his close associates, Brogan BamBrogan, is slated to head the test construction of a Hyperloop track. BamBrogan, a brilliant aerospace engineer who worked closely on SpaceX's flagship Falcon and Dragon projects, became interested by the project due to its capacity to improve many aspects of the shipping trade. Should the project be a success on land, an underwater "cargoloop" might even be feasible across oceans.
|An artist's rendering of buoys helping to anchor undersea Hyperloop tunnels. We hope there'll be windows.|
(Image courtesy forbes.com.)
Questions and prospective problems abound. For one, the speed might not be tolerable to all passengers. Cities would currently have difficulty supporting a new form of transport entering their turf. And the large amount of power required is more than arrays of solar panels can handle - making coal a likely candidate for some of the power. Yet, the Hyperloop team isn't dissuaded, because they plan to rely on ingenuity...as BamBrogan says, "I need to hire people who are really good at figuring out what they don't know."
This is the future, and some of our greatest minds are happy to be surging ahead into the hyper-unknown. For an American transportation system whose methods date back hundreds of years now, it's time for an upgrade (we love you, railroads, but this is just much more intelligent.) On top of the extreme functionality, there's another critical element to the Hyperloop hype: this is innovation made massively manifest, and that is very, very inspiring. If our entire transportation system can be so vastly improved, what else in our lives could stand to be razed and replaced with the realities that we now only dream can happen?
Or as Hyperloop Tech board member Peter Diamandis puts it, “It’s time to stop doing photo apps and start doing something for the planet."
|In winter, the Hyperloop could get you safely and quickly from Manhattan to Maine for a nice ski day|
...no shoveling required!
(Image courtesy forbes.com.)