Billionaire tech whiz Elon Musk's idea for a high-speed, inter-city "Hyperloop" transportation system could become reality, according to a report from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. The report describes the financial and technical challenges involved with the proposal, and closes with an invitation for people to contribute their ideas through crowdsourcing.
Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and founder of SpaceX, first publicly floated the idea of a tube-based transportation system between San Francisco and Los Angeles in the summer of 2013. He described the rail-free concept as a "cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table."
Using technology similar to the pneumatic tubes used by banks, the Hyperloop would enable passengers to travel in capsules at speeds of 600 miles per hour or more. Since Musk first unveiled the idea, a crowdsourcing team has been exploring the concept in further detail.
"The Hyperloop would not only have the potential (to) revolutionize transportation, it solves a major problem: over populated cities and highways," the report said.
"Since the announcement of the Hyperloop concept in August 2013, the idea has anything but gone away," the report continued. "Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has done a lot of engineering research on the capsule, the tube, and the propulsion system. As much as we would love to have the Hyperloop built by the end of the year, there are still plenty of questions that remain unanswered. That's why we've published this crowdstorming document."
The Hyperloop team invited "anyone who's interested in being part of the project" to apply at the JumpStartFund's Web site. The site was established to generate cloud-powered ideas and financial support for a variety of innovative tech projects.
$20 Million-$40 Million per Mile
As outlined in the new report, the Hyperloop would use "a combination of low air pressure and magnetic acceleration to get people from LA to SF in just about 30 minutes, which is almost three times faster than flying." The system would use solar power to generate electricity, and would be available to travelers at a cost of $40 to $60 for a round-trip ticket.
Aiming for that price point, it would also be possible to create similar systems between other city pairs, according to the report. These could include Los Angeles-Las Vegas, San Bernardino-Las Vegas, Dallas/Fort Worth-Houston/Austin, New York-Philadelphia and New York-Boston.
"With the Hyperloop, extremely fast, inexpensive intercity travel would be widely accessible," the report said. "If both people and goods can move more quickly and comparatively cheaply, rapid growth is a logical outcome. As to the economics, we have confirmed that it's absolutely feasible to build the entire line for an estimated $20 (million)-$45 million per mile."
The report continued, "For comparison, consider that other mass transit option(s) being considered for routes between San Francisco and Los Angeles come out to an estimated $200 million per mile."