Elon Musk’s Proposed Hyperloop May Be Only A Decade Away
Almost two years ago the CEO of Tesla and Space X founder, Elon Musk, released a white paper that laid out his idea for a super fast mode of transportation known as a Hyperloop. This proposed system would be able to transport people sitting in capsules that are propelled through elevated steel tubes which he described as looking like the barrel of a shotgun. Reaching speeds of up to 800mph this elevated transportation system could transport passages between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just 40 minutes and Musk estimated it would cost between 6 and 10 Billion dollars for a 400 mile Hyperloop.
That’s a fraction of the 68 billion dollars that California needs for its high speed rail link plans which while more extensive won’t even come close to the speeds of the Hyperloop. After releasing the white paper Musk basically left it up to someone else to bring this futuristic idea to fruition and that’s exactly what the crowd funding and crowd sourcing group of engineers known as the JumpStartFund have gone and done.
This incorporated group isn’t like a standard company; it’s made up of around 100 engineers from all over the US who have given their time free in return for stock option in the project. They nearly all have day jobs at companies like SpaceX, Airbus, NASA and Boeing, so they certainly have the expertise required and by working together they hope that they can overcome any obstacles in bringing this project to reality.
Much of the design work is being done by students at UCLA and the schools SUPRASTUDIO design and architecture program is partnered with the JumpStartFund to come up with design solutions that the new transit system would require. The route however may prove to be trickier to resolve as it’s important to keep the line as straight as possible in order to avoid what one commentator has called a potential “barf ride”.
While a lot of progress has been made on the design the route is yet to be selected and even then there are other hurdles to overcome such as government regulations, political struggles and funding but Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of JumpStartFund, says that “”I have almost no doubt that once we are finished, once we know how we are going to build and it makes economical sense, that we will get the funds.”
Working around existing buildings, the geological concerns raised from the proximity to an active fault line and government regulations could prevent the project being undertaken in California or even in the US which means that when the Hyperloop is eventually unveiled it could well be in a country with less obstacles, somewhere in Asia or the Middle East, Dubai perhaps.
Ahlborn is all too aware of this and stated that, “For us, it’s mostly about building the Hyperloop,” he said. “We want to see it in the U.S., but if it makes more sense to do that somewhere else, then so be it. The goal is to build it.”
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