The ‘Hyperloop’ Will Get You From L.A. to San Fran in Minutes, If These College Kids Can Figure It Out
Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind Tesla Motors and the rocket-technology company SpaceX, has a project called the Hyperloop, the goal of which is to create a new kind of transportation—"a fifth mode after planes, trains, cars and boats." He seems to be getting closer too, with the help of a bunch of UCLA students.
Currently it takes about six hours to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco and about an hour to fly. The Hyperloop would cut that flight time in half, if it ever gets built, of course. The idea is to use "reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on a cushion of air that is driven by a combination of linear induction motors and air compressors." Basically, you would sit in a capsule that travels at about 600 mph (topping out at 760 mph) through a tube several feet above ground.
Going faster and and reducing travel time are only two of the proposed benefits of the Hyperloop, though. Musk also wants the project to be entirely dependent on solar power, which would then bring the price of a ticket way down—to about 30 bucks, which as you might guess compares quite favorably to a several-hundred-dollar plane fare or whatever it costs in gas to make the (much more time-consuming) trip by car.
Currently about 25 architecture graduate students at UCLA are working on developing the Hyperloop. There is no clear estimated completion date, but Hyperloop CEO Dirk Ahlborn guesses it could be ready in about 10 years.
Here are some illustrations from Hyperloop's announcement in 2013: