Elon Musk discusses the Hyperloop at D11

"It's a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table," the SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder said of his concept for a high-speed tunnel system capable of shuttling passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in minutes.

Evacuated Tube Transport by ET3

The Colorado-based ET3 is also designing a Hyperloop-esque high-speed tube system it expects to test run by the end of 2013.

Bullet Trains Are Also Getting Faster

Though the Hyperloop would travel twice as fast as the high-speed bullet trains of Japan, it's still just a concept. In June, the Central Japan Railway Co. carried out its first successful tests for the next generation of bullet trains, which are designed to run at 311 mph.

[Image: Flickr user matt-lucht]

Elon Musk Wants to Zip You From L.A. to San Francisco in 30 Minutes

The SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder says he will unveil an alpha design next month for the Hyperloop, a high-speed tunnel system that can shuttle passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in minutes.

It takes roughly five-and-a-half hours to drive the 400 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But in the future, the same trip could take around 30 minutes.

That's the promise of the Hyperloop, the futuristic transportation system SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk says he will unveil a design for on August 12.

What is the Hyperloop, exactly? Musk has described his concept for a high-speed, tunnel-based tube system as "a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table," but hasn't publicly shared many other details since he first mentioned it a year ago. He has previously said the ideal system would be weather-proof, crash-proof, solar-powered, and at least twice as fast as a plane.

ET3, a Colorado-based company, is currently developing a similar technology for a high-speed tunnel system. Yahoo reports ET3 is planning a test run of three miles of prototype tubes by the end of 2013.

[Image: Flickr user OnInnovation]

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  • Saskboy K.

    There's an error in the headline. The LA to San Fran wouldn't take as long as 30 minutes!

  • Free Willy

    so what problem is he solving exactly?  Are all of the people on I5 going between LA and SF? Will this reduce traffic?  Will it create more commerce?  It will definitely create more construction jobs and yes more taxes for everybody.  

  • Mike Perry

    Given the dismal and worsening state of California's economy and the follies of its politicians, the state's the last place to invest in something this pricey. A tunnel from Houston to Austin would make far more sense.

  • Dan Konigsbach

    "a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table"
    Or, perhaps, a cross between a pneumatic tube and a Japanese capsule hotel room?

  • CCCrazyPanda

    Don't worry. Parking problems, ticket lines, California taxes, California's "anything that requires energy needs an 800% tax rate so we can save the whales" policy, and the TSA will find a way to make that 30 minute trip take 3 hours, and cost $200/ticket.

  • bennetthall

    I am starting to think Musk may be channeling alien technology.  Certain it may be timely if they finally landed (appeared?) and helped out with the mess we have created. 

  • Barry Quinn

    That's something like 5578 MPH, not taking acceleration and deceleration into consideration. Those seem like some pretty huge stresses on the human body. It would be great to hear from some engineers how the body deals with that. Who is healthy enough to ride? What are the risks?

    The expansion and contraction of materials alone would be crazy, not to mention the heat and power needed to do it.

    Obviously a crash at those speeds is beyond survivable, but what would the impact be like?

  • Barry Quinn

    First off, I read the Facebook link and it said NY to LA, not SF to LA. Thats a huge difference, and obviously changes this from the insanely complicated to the merely really complicated.

    Secondly, I never suggested I knew anything about physics, in fact I said I didn't and wanted someone who did to enlighten us. All I did was some basic math on the distance, that's not physics.

    Lastly, you seem to have confused this site with Youtube. Clearly you would rather be a troll than be curious enough to ask stupid questions.

  • Noobmist

    If your not taking into account acceleration then there is no stress on the human body, acceleration is what causes force.  The earth is moving around the sun at 65,000 miles per hour and our bodies are fine.

  • CCCrazyPanda

     Not New York to LA, San Francisco to LA. That's only 381 miles, so the tube only needs to go 762mph, not 5,578 MPH.

    762 with smooth accel/decel is totally doable with today's technology.

  • Barry Quinn

    Sorry about that. I thought the Facebook link said NY to SF. Yes, that does change everything.

  • Daemon Chill

    the only technological hurdle really is stable room temperature superconductors, or a higher then near absolute zero version of them...

    you get a stable superconductive loop, using magnetic fields to accelerate and decelerate the "pod" .. theres no expansion or contraction of materials to be had.. as there would be zero friction and a precisely controlled temp between stations.  .. the the super awesome videos of levitating toy trains, shown off by our fine minds at MIT and scale it up up up... if you use a rail gun like launch control to get a pod up to speed, it will continue to follow the magnetic fields until the fields themselves decelerate the pod.. which the nice thing is accidents between vehicles would be less likely as the track could presumably be turned off in sections allowing 1 train to stop if another ahead is stopped... and the lack of friction plus enclosed environments would hopefully lead to a lack of garbage showing up in the tubes.

    the same technology is being looked into for space launch systems. An enclosed rail gun loop that would accelerate the pod to escape velocity and then change the field allowing it to escape the loop and launch. This would obviously skip the launch section, but if he is able to get the funding into a city to city loop its a start. eventually imagine a city sized loop that can accelerate a passenger vehicle to an escape velocity and just fwop a pod out into orbit like it was a trip between towns? .. sign me up to test that out :D

  • Barry Quinn

    Would there not friction caused by the mass of the air itself? I know when a car has to exceed 200 mph, moving through the air is a huge part of the problem. The resistance is huge, would that not apply, would there not be friction and therefore heat?

    How many g's would that put on the occupants inside the craft? Would the liquid in your body not be moving at that speed and need time to react?

    How much warning do you need to slow a craft from that speed? My quick/bad calculations suggest its something like 92.96 miles per min, or roughly 1.54 miles per second, 8131.2 feet per second.

    If anyone actually knows, answers would be appreciated.

  • Slime

    Some math:
    381 miles in 1/2 hour = 762 mph = 12.7 mi/min =.21 mi/sec = 1118 feet/sec.

    Slowing down from 1118 fps over 5 minutes  (300 sec) means slowing down at 3.73 fps per second. One g = 32.2 feet per second per second.  So deceleration in this case would be 3.73/32.2 = .12 g's.

    This is equivalent to going from 30 mph to 0 in 11.8 seconds, which seems pretty comfortable.  Not sure how a subway train decelaration would compare - seems rougher than that.