Details Unveiled for Elon Musk's California, Solar-Powered "Hyperloop"

Imagine driving your car into a sizable aluminum pod and being shot 800 miles per hour through an elevated, shotgun-like barrel to arrive at a city 400 miles away within 30 minutes. According to Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla Motors, Californians will be doing this within the next decade.

Nearly a year after mentioning the possibility of a hyper-speed transit system and voicing discontent over the state’s “expensive, slow and impractical” high-speed rail proposal, Musk has unveiled a detailed synopsis of his solar- and wind-powered “Hyperloop.” The idea, originally inspired by the vacuum tubes used to transport checks at bank drive-throughs, has the potential to revolutionize mass transit.

With phase one aimed at connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Hyperloop would consist of two tubes - one for each direction - mounted on columns spaced 50 to 100 meters apart along California’s Interstate 5. Environmental impact would be minimal due to being elevated and an abundance of energy would be generated from rooftop solar panels and turbines.

Internally, a delicate combination of Inconel “air skis,” magnets and an electromagnetic field would cause each pod to levitate as an electric turbo compressor propels it forward. Over a dozen people or a single car can fit in each pod.

Courtesy of Elon Musk

Musk figures the Hyperloop could be built for $6 to $10 billion, making his proposal four times as fast as California’s and one-10th the cost. Tickets for individuals would be around $20.

Musk doesn’t plan on building the Hyperloop himself, but is entertaining the idea of constructing a prototype. “If it was my top priority it could be done in a few years,” Musk said. “If someone else did it, maybe 3 to 4 years.” 

Although the Alpha concept is a work in-progress, you can review Musk’s detailed proposal here.

Reference: Bloomberg Businessweek, Wired

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Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Details Unveiled for Elon Musk's California, Solar-Powered "Hyperloop"" 13 Aug 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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