Elon Musk, billionaire and founder of Paypal, electric-car firm Tesla Motors and space technology company SpaceX, has revealed designs for Hyperloop - a supersonic Jetsons-style transportation system for California. Travelling at over 700 mph, passengers would sit in a 1.35-metre-wide tube and be blasted through the 382-mile tunnel linking Los Angeles and San Francisco in just 30 minutes.
After months of speculation, Musk revealed plans to use magnets and fans to shoot capsules that float on a cushion of air through a long tube. "Hyperloop is a new mode of transport that seeks to change [a] paradigm by being both fast and inexpensive for people and goods, " said Musk in the design study.Hyperloop passenger capsule version with doors open at the station
In the designs, passenger capsules are transported at high speed through a low pressure tube, elevated over the land between the two cities. "The capsules are accelerated via a magnetic linear accelerator affixed at various stations on the low pressure tube with rotors contained in each capsule, " Musk said.
Passengers would not notice the speed and travel by Hyperloop would feel a lot like being in an aeroplane, Musk explains. "It should really feel just super smooth and quiet. And there'd never be any turbulence or anything, " he said.Musk's twin city vision. San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes by Hyperloop
Well-known for electric cars, civilian space travel and a vision for interplanetary evolution and sending humans to Mars, the transportation tycoon says Hyperloop would be twice as fast as an aeroplane, cheaper than a bullet train and completely self-powered. It would be both weather- and earthquake-resistant.Hyperloop capsule in tube cutaway with attached solar arrays
"If we are to make a massive investment in a new transportation system, then the return should by rights be equally massive, " Musk said. "Compared to the alternatives, it should ideally be: safer, faster, lower-cost, more convenient, immune to weather, sustainably self-powering, resistant to earthquakes and not too disruptive to those along the route."
Musk made the announcement via Twitter last night and a full 57 page pdf document detailing his ideas was published shortly after 9.30pm GMT. He held a 30 minute conference shortly after.
The designs for Hyperloop are open source and Musk has asked for feedback from others to advance the design and make it a reality.Schematic of air bearing skis that support the capsule
The entrepreneur first mentioned Hyperloop in July 2012 and had left amateur designers, engineers and investors to speculate ever since. He described Hyperloop as the "fifth mode of transportation" - the previous four being train, plane, automobile, and boat. "It's not a vacuum tunnel, but a cross between Concorde, a rail-gun and air hockey table, " he said at the time.
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