Database for Advancements in Science and Technology

Mass Transportation. High Speed Train Travel

July, August 2013 THE HYPERLOOP Elon Musk, Space-X, Tesla Motors

Los Angeles, San Francisco

Zoka Zola Studio Matt Whitham

A hyperloop is a theoretical mode of high-speed transportation sketched out by the entrepreneur and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Musk envisions the system as a ‚fifth mode‘ of transportation: an alterna- tive to boats, aircraft, automobiles, and trains. Musk, who has expressed his intent to develop a prototy- pe hyperloop, stated that it „could revolutionize travel“but no working prototype of the hyperloop cur- rently exists, and the technological and economic feasibility of the idea has not been independently studied. A hyperloop would be, according to Musk, „an elevated, reduced-pressure tube that contains pressurized capsules driven within the tube by a number of linear electric motors.“Musk‘s design calls for a capsule that would ride on a cushion of air forced through multiple openings on the capsule‘s bottom. The design proposes to use „a combi- nation of active and passive means to reduce the negative effects of choked airflow on the transportation system.“ According to the initial „Alpha“ design released on August 12, 2013, a hyperloop would enable travel from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area in 35 minutes, meaning that passengers would traverse the proposed 354 miles (570 km) route at an average speed of just under 598 mph (962 km/h), and a top speed of 760 mph (1,220 km/h). The suggested route runs from the northern San Fernando Valley to the Hayward/Castro Valley area, paralleling the Interstate 5 corridor for most of its length. The „Alpha“ proposal estimates a US$6 billion budget for a passenger- only version of the system, while a version allowing for transportation of both passengers and cars would cost US$7.5 billion. Musk‘s cost projections have been criticized by transportation engineers and others, who contend that the sum is unrealistically low given the scale of construction required and the level of unproven technology involved