Picture this: You drop your bag on the counter of your Los Angeles apartment. It’s a regular Tuesday, but you feel like going out for dinner in New York. Sound impossible? Not in the world of Hyperloop One.
You leave your apartment and wander down the street. Not far away on a car-park sized platform sits an electric pod-like vehicle. This is a bus stop like no other.
How the Hyperloop Works
You enter the vehicle alongside a few neighbors. There’s no schedule. It shoots below the street to a subterranean tunnel.
The pod? Pressurized. The tunnel? Depressurized. It’s rush hour, so the pod speeds up to a max of approximately 600 miles per hour.
Your pod isn’t alone. Hundreds of others whiz by like fish swimming underwater under a moon’s pale glow.
You’re travelling on the Hyperloop.
21 minutes later you’re in New York City. Let the shopping begin!
What is the Hyperloop?
I bet you thought breezing across the USA in such short a time was science fiction. Think again.
It’s exactly what Elon Musk has in mind.
Meet The Boring Company
Musk’s Company originated with a drive to reduce city congestion. CEO Musk’s initial idea was to transport cars through the tunnels on electric sleds.
Musk didn’t rule out tunnels ever supporting cars. But Musk said his
Musk described the system as “a 150 mph (241 km/h), underground, autonomous, electric bus that automatically switches between tunnels and lifts.”
The Hyperloop’s Origin
Making use of underutilized space underground isn’t a new idea. In 1972 physicist R.M. Salter wrote a paper describing a scarily similar concept.
Salter worked for the RAND Corporation, an American nonprofit created to improve policy with research.
He named his innovation The Very High Speed Transit System. He proposed electromagnetic levitation propelling cars travelling via vacuum tunnels.
The Very High Speed Transit System doesn’t conjure the same excitement as Hyperloop. Still, more than 4 decades ago Salter concluded that such a system was no far-out dream. The system would need no new scientific breakthroughs. All that needed addressing were the physical construction and political issues.
That’s precisely where Elon Musk and the Boring Company are at today.
The Boring Company’s Transportation Tunnels
Reportedly, work has already been completed on a 305-feet (100 meter) tunnel. The tunnel’s entrance is at Musk’s SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX has the green light to increase this tunnel by 2 miles toward LAX.
SpaceX plans to build a grid of low-cost, fast-to-dig tunnels. The city “Loop” will consist of pressurized tunnels with pods on electric skates traveling over 125 mph. The “Hyperloop” will be for long-distance travel in straight lines, such as NYC to DC. The Hyperloop will use pressurized pods in a depressurized tunnel to permit speeds of over 600 mph .
Whether the project comes to fruition comes back to cost. Radical improvements can come to tunneling technology. Still, building infrastructure size will be expensive. Really expensive. That means a successful Hyperloop will need government subsidy, and thus political will.
Benefits of the Hyperloop
Who wouldn’t want to be whisked from A to B at 600 mph in a vacuum tube? 29-minutes between the US capital of Washington, D.C. and New York City!
Experts from NASA, the US Department of Transport, and Hamburg University theorized the possibilities. The technology could be cheaper and greener in comparison to short-haul flights. The Hyperloop could be more environmentally friendly than long truck journeys, too.
Musk’s company isn’t the only one thinking of Hyperloops.
In 2017, Richard Branson’s company partly funded Virgin Hyperloop. Virgin Hyperloop successfully tested full-scale pods with speeds reaching 190 miles per hour.
Hyperloops are a global phenomenon. Hyperloop lines are proposed to link Abu Dhabi and Dubai, two of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. More projects are proposed for European capitals Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest, and several cities in Mexico.
The Future of Transportation
What made The Boring Company’s system different from a conventional subway? Some argue it was their transporting cars via electric sleds. With The Boring Company’s new concept of public transport, some envisioned a fancy subway train.
Unscheduled high-speed transport promises more than simply an enhanced subway. It promises with smaller entrances and exits taking up surface area.
The Hyperloop can reinvent transport and forever change the obstacles of time. Tunnels can provide greener travel alternatives. Soon we all might rethink our perception of distance.