There are four modes of transportation in the world today that are used for long distance commutes. All fours of these modes are widely used and have been well established across the world over the course of time.
1. You can drive to your destination in a car or a bus
2. You can take a train to the destination, or to the nearest city with a train station
3. You can take a flight to the city
4. You can travel via a boat or a ship is the destination is not landlocked
There are many problems that one faces when travelling over a distance that is not long enough to allow for affordable supersonic aircrafts. While in case of intercontinental travel a supersonic plane is the most efficient way to travel presently, when making a trip between cities like LA and San Fransisco, such a plane is not very cost effective. Hyperloop is the proposed solution for this problem, and has been put forward as a hypothetical project by the Director of SpaceX, Elon Musk.
So what is the Hyperloop?
Hyperloop is a mode of transportation envisioned by Elon Musk that will effectively become the fifth type of transportation that mankind can use. It combines elements or train, aircraft and road travel to offer a rapid transit over thousands of kilometres. In Musk’s own words, when completed, the Hyperloop will allow people to travel from LA to San Fransisco in under thirty minutes. In fact, the transportation system will let them drive their car inside the loop, and have it transported to the destination.
A number of challenges need to be addressed for designing the Hyperloop. Friction was one of the biggest culprits since it would make high speed travel impossible for the present design. With the new concept designs, the Hyperloop will offer the following:
- Travel from SF to LA in 30 minutes
- Will not be affected by weather
- Will not disrupt other transportation modes like trains and roads
- Will be cheaper than catching a flight.
- Will operate on clean solar power.
Elon Musk is well known to despise any kind of project that is uninspiring. He hates inefficiency and thrives on building things that solve basic human problems in a proactive manner. If it were not for his name, the Hyperloop project would have been considered madness by most. But Musk has proven with Tesla and SpaceX that he puts his money where his mouth is and delivers what he promises.
Technical specifications of the Hyperloop
The core concept behind Hyperloop has been explored earlier as well. Effectively, a tube will be built between the two destinations. It will be closed, airtight, and have a low air pressure. A carriage, or a pod as Musk often calls it, will travel inside the tube at subsonic speed. The pods will be large enough to let travellers drive their car inside, as Musk recently revealed, making it the perfect way to get work done in either of the city, and be back before the day is over.
So why is it called a Hyperloop? Simple, really. There will be two tubes, running side by side, and at the end they will be joined to each other, forming a loop. Due to the hyper speed at which travel will be possible, the name is very apt indeed.
Musk criticised the bullet train project that California state was working on, and proposed the Hyperloop instead. His proposed idea will cost under $10 billion (6.5 for the passenger only variant) and may very well change the way the world travels.