Hyperloop – The Fifth Mode of Transportation?

We all know about planes, trains, boats, and automobiles, but what do you call something that is described as being “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table?” If you are multi-billionaire Elon Musk, you would call it Hyperloop. Before we talk about Hyperloop, we should cover who Elon Musk is. Mr. Musk is a South African born businessman, engineer, and inventor who has helped create Paypal.com, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX. Elon is basically a real life version of Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Iron Man but without the suit.

Now that introductions are out of the way, what is Hyperloop? Hyperloop is an updated version of an idea that has been around for a little over 200 years. Hyperloop is basically a pneumatic tube. You have probably seen pneumatic tubes outside of banks, they are the tubes that have a capsule you place your check into, that is then sucked away. Now imagine that you are the check being put inside the capsule. You are going to be in for a wild and fast ride, right? That is essentially what Hyperloop is providing. People step into a capsule that is magnetically levitated in a tube that is elevated above the ground using columns. The tube is at a partial vacuum, and the motors to accelerate and decelerate your capsule are located along the tube. There is a fan at the front of the capsule that allows for high pressure air to be sent to the rear of the capsule, which stops pressures from building in the tube as the capsule travels forward. The projected top speed for Hyperloop is 760 mph. Which is incredible considering that the nearest competitor, China’s CRH380A, has barely broken 300 mph.

Sounds really cool, right? Unfortunately NWMSU is nowhere near the proposed route. Currently, the initial route is set to be between Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. Hyperloop theoretically would cut down the travel time between the two cities to 30 minutes. Pretty good for a usual five hour and 30 minute drive of over 380 miles. The cost of this project according to Elon Musk is $6 billion – much cheaper than California’s budget of $68 billion for their high-speed rail system stuck in development hell.

Will Hyperloop work? According to Ansys, a company that does simulations for engineering projects, it is theoretically possible but would need a few tweaks. The $6 billion cost has been criticized also, with critics proposing an actual cost of more than $100 billion. Either way, time will tell if Hyperloop becomes a reality. This article is merely an introduction to Hyperloop. Elon Musk has made the Hyperloop idea open source to facilitate more ideas. To learn more about this new wave of transportation, follow up with the all-encompassing PDF file at the following link: Hyperloop Alpha.pdf.

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