Robert Winner


This conversation is closed.

Elon Musk's proposed Hyperloop

Elon Musk is proposing a hyperloop for boats, planes, automobiles, and trains. He states he can deliver a system of train transport from LA to SF in 30 minutes (343 miles) at 685 MPH. He claims this can be done for 6 billion or one tenth of the proposed cost of the high speed rail being considered.

Is this possible .... would you ride this? He says facts will be made available in August 2013.

What do you think of this proposal? Should he be considered for a TED Talk? Would you watch it?

  • Aug 14 2013: Robert
    Elon Musk has proven what can be done with his new NON Fosil fuel cars

    He has made the USA car industry " We can't do it " to a new American Can Do Sprite.
    His office has advised me that a third generation car is on the drafting table as I speak
    Should sell for about 40.000 dollars when released. My reply to his e mail was Please let
    me be the first to buy on..........ENOUGH WITH THE OIL CARTEL AND COMPANIES
    He has made them look like Fools Greedy Fools , By the way his cars are beautiful.
    My best
    Lou Sisbarro
  • thumb
    Aug 11 2013: Here's a diagram that Elon has said is the closest guess he's seen

    It goes along the same lines as my previous link, except with more graphics. This one shows a closed loop between two cities and fans blowing air in the right direction.

    I think it doesn't have to be between paired cities.

    using the same components, you could have the main tubes extend to multiple cities with on and off ramp decelerators and accelerators. several levels of speed tubes depending on if your stop's coming up.

    Air being blown in, so not a vaccuum. 2 meter wide pods, so similar to car size.

    Open sourced, crowd funded? mass transport!
  • thumb
    Aug 2 2013: I just don't get how they would solve the weather factor (not to mention the huge money ,time, and technical difficulties required to build that). But then again, what the hell do I know, look at the palm island of Dubai as an example.
    • thumb
      Aug 3 2013: It's a tube, so weather wouldn't affect it on the inside, if it's underground, then it's tornado proof, And Elon says it'll only cost 6 billion, which they're currently planning a maglev on the same route for 60 billion. Just getting the first leg of it operational should make it self sufficient and it'll pay for the future extensions.
  • thumb
    Aug 2 2013: Here's my candidate for what it is, and it does sound safe.

    Here is something similar except it works with vacuum tubes, considerably faster and much less safe. but wouldn't it be cool to be able to get to japan in 2 hours, spend the weekend, and get back in time for work on monday. I especially like the idea of piggybacking a worldwide electrical supergrid onto this. In his talk, Bill gates says that solar power is not feasible because if you take every battery ever made and charge it up, they would collectively be able to supply 10 minutes of the world's electrical needs. But the sun is shining somewhere in the world every minute of the day. Why not bypass the whole question of storage? The same infrastructure can also have water pipes piggybacked in.
  • thumb
    Jul 17 2013: The thing that concerns me is the implication that you will travel in isolation from any perseption of speed. Anyone who has ridden a high speed train will know that the slightest track bobbles are more violent the faster you go. These tubes are going to have to be incredibly straight, it's amazing what becomes a noticeable corner at 700mph. The other difficulty I see is maintaining a hard vacuum in a tube that is thousands of kilometres long.
    The 1998 Eschede disaster illustrates what happens when a train travelling at 200kmph crashes. One can only imagine what happens at 1000kmph.
    Here is an amusing video that demonstrates what would happen to the capsule if the vacuum failed on one side.
    • thumb
      Aug 13 2013: This is not in vacuum, and utilizes air cushions. You can hardly get any better suspension.


      "Inside the tubes, the pods would be mounted on thin skis made out of inconel, a trusted alloy of SpaceX that can withstand high pressure and heat. Air gets pumped through little holes in the skis to make an air cushion, Musk says. The front of the pod would have a pair of air jet inlets—sort of like the Concorde. An electric turbo compressor would compress the air from the nose and route it to the skis and to the cabin. Magnets on the skis, plus an electromagnetic pulse, would give the pod its initial thrust; reboosting motors along the route would keep the pod moving. And: no sonic boom. With warm air inside the tubes and high tailwinds, the pods could travel at high speeds without crossing the sound barrier. “The pod can go just below the speed of sound relative to the air,” Musk says."

      It frustrates me these links are not at the homepage of this conversation.
      Elon Musks blog:
      A good critique:

      @ Peter Lindsay - didn't see it was posted three weeks after.. my apoligies.
      • thumb
        Aug 14 2013: Your source is dated three weeks after my comment. It's hard to do homework on a paper that doesn't yet exist..Regarding the vacuum. He is still preposing a partial vacuum so you still need to maintain an airtight seal over hundreds of kilometers. Elon does have a bit of a habit of coming up with amazing ideas raising capital and then not quite making it work. And before you say SpaceX, it's a perfect example. Falcon9 has been problematic at best. It's just that the US is so embarassed about having to use Russian rockets thay'll give anything a try.
  • thumb
    Jul 16 2013: I would watch his talk. Why not?

    The only time I have heard him was in the interview format with Chris Anderson from TED 2013.
  • thumb
    Aug 16 2013: He should be considered for a TED talk. A very brilliant man and hard working he is. I love his hyper loop idea but I would like to see it expanded further. Why just keep it in the states? Why not there a be a global transportation system that could take us from one country to the next in the blink of an eye? How awesome that would be. We could go anywhere anytime for work or for play. Free to roam all of the lands, like we were meant to do.
  • Aug 15 2013: And that still means it will just be another toy for the elites. "Suggestions" from nobodies like us will simply be ignored or dismissed.
  • thumb
    Aug 14 2013: Give the guy his due

    for dreaming big.
  • Aug 14 2013: i love it and i also hate it because it'll suffer from the same flaws current transport systems do: they don't run from where you are or to where you need to be. i live in japan right near the shinkansen (bullet train) line, and the whole trip always takes more than double whatever the time on the shinkansen is. last time i took it i went to kyoto - 15 minutes to the station, 10 minutes on the local train to get to the shinkansen station, 10 minute wait for the next shinkansen, 1 hour on it, 10 minute walk and wait to catch the connecting local train, then 15 minute walk from the local station to my event, and it was in the middle of summer. i would've driven if the tickets hadn't already been bought for us all. we can't say "LA to SF" anymore because they aren't single locations. where in LA to where in SF?

    we don't need another single line, however fast it goes, until we have an improved transport network. we don't live either near the station or out on a farm like we did last century, so we have to stop thinking the hub and spoke model is adequate.
    • thumb
      Aug 14 2013: I agree that we need a better transport network. I read somewhere that for local trains, living more than 1/2 kilometer away diminishes the usage by 90%. So having local trains every 1 km would be ideal, and.... what a surprise the .ideal block size is also 1/2 km...

      As far as which has to come first, I'll take whichever gets through the bureaucracy and done first.
    • thumb
      Aug 15 2013: What we could use within any moderately urbanized area is Personal Rapid Transit (PRT).

      PRT generally consists of 4-passenger pods which run along a guideway above, at, or below grade (ground level). Each pod would be air conditioned, feature access to the Internet, and have fold-up seats to accommodate wheelchairs, bikes, or luggage. Furthermore, the pods would operate in one direction on the guideway to help ensure no chance of collision.

      The guideway would be set up as a grid, with off-line stations about one-quarter mile apart in any direction. In addition, the guideway itself could also be set up as a utility corridor to enclose communications and power conduits. Also, depending on the climate of the locale, solar panels mounted on the stations and guideways could supply at least some of the power to run the system.

      The pods would carry passengers from origin to destination without stopping. Also, passengers would not have to wait (long) for a pod - if at all - as pods could be on standby at the station. In response to large events, pods could be pre-directed to a group of stations to anticipate a sizable crowd. Finally, some pods could be designated to transport freight or supplies.
  • thumb
    Aug 13 2013: My body is ready.
  • Aug 13 2013: First, it would be very convenient, since at those speeds there will probably be no survivors from an accident, so legal costs would be lower. Dead people cost less than injured people. Second, not one penny of tax money should be used for it, since it will probably just be another luxury indulged in by the privileged (if you make $50,000+ in the USA, you are among the privileged, whether you want to admit it or not).
    • thumb
      Aug 13 2013: Have you read the plan?

      You can read the whole thing here: (PDF warning)

      Safety is discussed pretty well.

      Cost is $20, So let's say that whoever gets it done wants to make a better profit, $50 is still much better than driving, flying or rail.

      so, minimum round trip of $40 to $100
      a. compare with average one-way ticket price of $105 one-way by the proposed rail system so round trip $210
      a. Compare with $158 round trip by air for September 2013
      b. Compare with $115 round trip by road ($4/gallon with 30 mpg vehicle)
      • Aug 13 2013: It is better than that. If you can get from LA to SF in 30 minutes then you can also come back the same day. Since you don't need to spend the night or pay for a motel you save another $100. If the roundtrip air ticket is $158 are you doing it all in one day? If not you have to add in the motel. Also, are you taking a taxi to and from the airport or are you paying for parking? Either way another $40.
      • Aug 14 2013: how much for the parking or cab fair to the station and how much for the cab fair from the station to where you actually need to be and back again?
        • thumb
          Aug 14 2013: Bikeshare!

          Those obstacles are there with planes and trains as well, so in comparison the only option that resolves that is cars, which of course also means sharing the road with reckless human drivers, sacrificing speed, rush hour traffic, and, like Stuart mentions above, the overnight stay if you've got more than just a few hours' work.

          Actually, Elon has proposed two options, one of which is able to transport cars as well, so if you need to do a lot of driving at your destination, that's possible too.

          I would advocate that more flexible option as it allows for more cargo as well.
        • Aug 14 2013: The big advantage in taking the train over the airplane is that the train station is much more convenient than the airport. This is because airplanes need runways and all they entail. This system that Elon musk is talking about doesn't need a runway and should be able to link to a mass transit system easily. Therefore in NYC just take the subway (no taxi, no parking, and not a lot of bags). This would also be true of Washington D.C. and Boston. So, if he set up a tube from NYC to Boston, or NYC to Washington DC it would be much more convenient than an airplane.

          Initially they will probably be linking cities like this, around 200 miles apart with a high volume of traffic. I would also expect the tube to link to mass transit, either a major train station or bus station.
      • Aug 14 2013: $20? Sorry, but there have been many days when I could not afford that, and I've always been employed. It will be a toy of the elite, another way to separate out and exclude the underclass.
        • thumb
          Aug 15 2013: A large proportion of the world can't afford $20 one way, yet it is the cheapest fast mass transit proposed. The plan's only just been proposed and does include features that may not be necessary like personal TV screens. I say we take the proposal and suggest changes to make it viable for more people.
  • Aug 5 2013: I would be interested in hearing a lot more about the proposal. This is a man who revolutionized payments and online transactions with PayPal, sent private rockets into space with SpaceX including contracts from NASA, and has brought an electric car to market with Tesla, the first to receive a consumer reports 100/100 rating. All by the age of 42 with 5 children. I would be all eyes and ears for a TED Talk. Our rail lines are getting ancient and we are far behind other countries in high speed rail. This could be a great project. I am specifically interested in how it could be safe going through earthquake zones.
  • thumb
    Jul 30 2013: From What I gather, it's a tube. with moving air in it, so that means it can never pass the speed of sound. Air cushioning eliminates the probability of collisions,

    it leaves when you want it to: so not a train on a schedule. Car size capsules that the computer could integrate into the flow of traffic.

    Cheap. If this savings in cost translates to lower prices than driving your own car, then very appealing for long distances. saves way more than airfare.

    685 MPH > 75 MPH.

    I've been waiting on pins and needles for the announcement in August. I have watched his ted interview with Chris Anderson, and loads of his other TV appearances.

    And I've already got a worldwide route planned for it. It's just gotta get built!!!
  • thumb
    Jul 26 2013:
    Now I'm even more concerned about travelling at 1000kmph in a tube train.
  • thumb
    Jul 23 2013: It would have to be encased because the air drag would force it to use more power for smaller added speed. 685 MPH creates one heck of a lot of drag. I think around 300 MPH is the efficient limit for travel through air.

    If its initial speed were zero and it took 2 minutes to reach 686 MPH, then we can assume it would take that amount of time to slow down, adding 4 minutes. to the 30 minutes or 34 minutes for the trip. It's average speed would only be around 605 MPH. I'd need more information to answer the question Robert.
    • thumb
      Jul 23 2013: Me too. He said he would provide details in August.

      Thanks for the reply.
  • thumb
    Jul 19 2013: This is interesting but sadly my net is capped so, until it turns over i'am a little hamstrung. It would have to be tubed or underground.If it's tubbed then as my downunder compadre has stated it would have to be sealed, i wonder if a gas is used in the tube? How many acceleration points would it take to get an object up to 685 MPH (I've never been on a bullet train) before one can just coax it along? Or does one even need to stage acceleration?

    If they are thinking of using the latest superconductive material created then they would have to use a coolant for the track? Otherwise they might be upgrading it as soon as it is operational. I don't think the race for Zero G is that far along or the industry can produce a vast amount of a material at this time. Interesting.
  • thumb
    Jul 17 2013: Better luck than Senator Reid is having with his pet project bullet train from LA to Vegas.
    • thumb
      Jul 17 2013: I'm sorry to hear that Harry is such a nice senator and so honest too
      • thumb
        Jul 17 2013: No, you are confused, I am talking about Harry Reid from Nevada. (Interesting omission of the period after the word "that".)
        • thumb
          Jul 17 2013: Great catch and comment. .... Bob
        • thumb
          Jul 17 2013: I'm no grammarian, like noam chomsky, but I was thinking the omission should be a comma. But you tell me.

          At any rate thank you that was a genuine LOL.

          My brother loves him as he got the RR to move where they parked the train on the tracks so it did not interfere with the deer migration, which in turn effected my brothers deer hunt. Other than that Harry Reid smells...
    • Comment deleted

  • Jul 17 2013: Hope I live to see its fruition. Magnetic levitation is definitely the most efficient transportation bar none. Automobiles and planes are already obsolete and wasteful. Eventually maglev will be the solution for both local and long distance travel. Both public and private "car" systems will be available. Imagine a world without traffic lights, stop signs, accidents, tickets, DUI, hit and runs, vehicular manslaughter, uninsured drivers, auto theft, traffic jams, flat tires, breakdowns, gas prices, insurance, pollution, road kill, streetlights, street signs, cement roads, or wasted real estate. The elevated system will be virtually impervious to all current weather delays. Isolation, desperation and desolation are reduced. Increased pedestrian activity aids in our overall health and social interactions, strengthening communities. Opportunity to read a book, text, meet somebody new, surf the internet, conduct business, daydream, etc. I am video producer, and would love the opportunity to create marking videos for this wonderful idea!
  • thumb
    Jul 16 2013: With superconductors super fast trains would be possible, and they would spend less fuel than conventional trains. Such trains have actually already been implemented in other cities and work wonderfully. And with advancements in technology, I believe it only a matter of time before these superconductors can operate at room temperatures and beyond, which will remove the necessity of cooling and lower costs even more. I would definitely ride these trains, knowing that I'm moving super fast, yet at the same time sitting comfortably in a chair. As for planes and boats I sadly do not know, but something similar could probably be applied to automobiles as well.
  • thumb
    Jul 16 2013: I think that is what we have leaders for so I would make it mandatory for Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, Vilagrosa, Willie Brown, et. al.

    As I say to all leaders: I will behind you all the way. In other words YOU take point.
  • thumb
    Jul 16 2013: I would definitely ride it. The convenience and benefits completely outweigh the risks.
    The proposal seems to be a fairly confident one, and Elon Musk is pretty smart; if anyone can make this happen, he can.
    He should be considered for a TED Talk because the more publicity this gets, the more the public can give this serious consideration. After all, "the $60 billion bullet train they're proposing in California would be the slowest bullet train in the world at the highest cost per mile. They're going for records in all the wrong ways."
    • thumb
      Aug 15 2013: Though it appears that those in charge of the high-speed rail project are not going to halt or alter their plans, I have been thinking for some time that we need to pass over the "high-speed rail" stage and move on to Maglev.

      Perhaps Musk's proposal will gain enough traction to at least bring about some further consideration.