Hyperloop is crossing the threshold of a Pipe Dream: Elon Musk’s 760mph Supertube

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Last year, Elon Musk, the Tony Stark of our real world when surfaced his futuristic concept of human transportation at the speed of sound via pods, some of the people, who doubted his abilities considered it no more than a figment of imagination, which was far from becoming a reality. However, Musk, the man behind PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, showed an air of seriousness for his pipe dream. In order to herald a revolution in travel industry, bypassing the traffic and the railroad project, he created a new firm by the name of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies that eventually is working towards concretization of the dream for which it has already recruited top experts and engineers from across the globe.

Current crew

Currently, the team consists of 100 engineers, all having day jobs in companies like NASA, Yahoo!, Airbus and SpaceX. Nearly 25 UCLA graduate architecture students are also working but remotely. The firm is collaborating under the leadership of Dirk Ahlborn, as he is the CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, who also happens to be the founder of JumpStarter Inc., a crowdsourcing firm.

Hyperloop Technology

The technology involved is that of solar powered pneumatic tubes connecting cities across huge distance with a speed of 760 mph. Hyperloop would be placed on the columns above certain feet from earth so that the tracks are far from causing harm to the farmers since, the first proposed route follows the agriculture-rich Central Valley in California.

The capsules would enclose favorable environment during shuttling.  Magnets that would also help in keeping each capsule on a steady course will accelerate the pods. While moving across the conduits, the pods, containing humans, would create air and float on it, the technique is similar to that of puck in air hockey.

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Each pod will have room for 6-8 people, departing after 30 seconds, with tickets costing nearly £13 per visit. The project is expected to be 4 times faster and involving one tenth, that is £4billion, of the cost of California’s high-speed rail project. Musk’s envisions that the project might not take more than seven to ten years to complete.

Travelling through low pressure tube

For an efficient aerodynamics, Musk is playing with the air pressure inside the tubes. Pressure wall will get sucked into a compressor and simultaneously, it’ll expels the air out of the gaps down the bottom of the train. Thus, creating a levitating effect, like that of puck in air hockey.

The next obvious question that comes into mind is power that is required to carry out the compressor task. Since vehicles powered by battery are Musk’s specialty, so we have no doubts that the compressor thingy is a doable approach.

What remains to be done?

Transport experts are still not satisfied; they displayed their skepticism by referring huddles like natural calamities including earthquakes. Musk said that currently, he is already occupied with SpaceX, his rocket-manufacturing firm for ISS, and so he is unable to give time to Hyperloop however, he has published his designs for anyone who can use or modify it. One can download the paper titled Hyperloop-Alpha.pdf.

Hyperloop is an open source transportation concept. The community is encouraging experts across the globe to contribute in the designing process. They believe that the iteration process led by individuals or groups would help in morphing the Hyperloop from an idea to a reality.

This project is indeed ambitious and some still fear about its feasibility but there were others who had the same apprehension when some pioneering spirit envisioned to land on Mars.

Source: [Wired], [Daily Mail], [Tesla Motors]

About Pooja Kashyap

A CPD certified Fitness Trainer, Pooja also likes to spend time reading and blogging the latest research and discoveries in science and how technology is shaping the world. Besides writing, she enjoys reviewing books and taking interviews of creative/innovative people. Currently, she is located in Noida, India, where she actively participates in marathons as well. She is also on Quora l Twitter and LinkedIn.