Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, is moving forward with one of his favorite ideas that he turned into a project not too long ago, the Hyperloop. The real life Tony Stark is moving forward with the Hyperloop tube, which is a high-speed transportation system that in some ways resembles the tubes used to transport deposits from a bank drive-up teller.
On Thursday, a tweet from Musk stated that a test track will be built for the Hyperloop in Texas. This will allow student teams and companies to use the track to test different transport pod designs. Companies and colleges will build their pods and be able to bring them to the track and see how they perform and further the research and design.
Musk followed that initial tweet with another containing information about starting a pod racing competition to be held annually. USA Today reported that the competition sounds like a cross between the pod racing in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and a soap box derby.
While at a transportation conference, Musk told the Texas Tribune that the test track would likely be close to five miles in length. That should allow the pods to reach very high speeds.
The idea of sending travelers to various destinations inside of a capsule or pod, hurling through the tube at speeds well over several hundred miles per hour is intriguing to backers of Musk. The first Hyperloop may be built between Los Angeles and San Francisco and is expected to make the 400 mile trip in less than one hour. The thought is the Hypertube would be much cheaper to build than a high-speed train system. That is only scratching the surface. In theory, the Hypertube could potentially reach 800 miles per hour, according to CNET.
Similar to the pneumatic tubes at bank drive throughs and old newspapers and working on the same principal of an air hockey table, but with electromagnetic pulses instead of a cushion of air, the Hyperloop has merit to be a very economical form of transportation that could very well revolutionize mass transit. The speed that one could travel from one location to another could make the need of domestic air travel obsolete, much in the way that Musk hopes that Tesla will make the need for internal combustion engines obsolete.
Musk would like to see a network of stations cross country to allow for travelers to easily travel from coast to coast. Much like his Supercharger stations that are being set up across the country to allow his electronic cars travel coast to coast without worrying about where the nearest charging station is.
Forbes reported that Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), a start-up not affiliated with Musk, has put together a team of 100 people on a Hyperloop design of their own through JumpStartFund. Musk had brought forth a challenge to companies to run with the idea of his original concept, and they did just that, publishing a white paper that took the original concept and refined it. However it is not clear if Musk’s Texas test track would fall in line with the design refinements HTT has made. They may be left out of the loop if their pod does not fit the design standards of the Texas loop.
By Carl Auer