What is futuristic, has the potential to transport passengers faster than an airplane, and resembles a Disneyland ride? It's Hyperloop - a design for a supersonic transportation system between high-traffic cities that lie within short distances conjured up by Elon Musk, the visionary behind SpaceX, the world's first privately funded spacecraft.
Unveiled by the billionaire entrepreneur on August 12th in response to the State of California's proposal to create a high-speed train that reduces travel time between San Francisco to Los Angeles from the current 12+ hours to less than three hours, Hyperloop aspires to cover the distance in a mere 35 minutes.
And while achieving this kind of speed may seem impossible without jeopardizing the safety of its passengers, Musk's design incorporates among other things, an old tested process similar to the one used by pneumatic tubes to shoot mail and packages within and across buildings, except on a larger scale.
Passengers would sit themselves in aluminum pods or capsules that are suspended inside a nearly air-free tube, built either on the surface or underground. A combination of magnetic attraction and solar power, as well as, lack of wind resistance, would allow the capsules to zoom across at speeds exceeding 700 miles per hour. Musk envisions that at each pod would have the capacity to carry up to 28 passengers and that there would be as many as 70 pods traveling back and forth, during peak commute hours.
Musk's design also includes building pods that can fit entire cars. So all passengers would have to do, is drive into the pod, sit back and relax for about half hour and then simply drive off! And of course given his penchant for clean technology the train would be solar powered, completely weatherproof and be able to withstand the big earthquakes that California is so well known for.
If all this sounds a little bit too futuristic to you, that's because it is. So much so, that Musk has excused himself from building it because of his super busy schedule. What he is hoping to do instead, is inspire others to start thinking along the same lines so that someday Hyperloop may actually become a reality.
And it seems to be working - Utah-based White Clouds has already released a 3-D model of Musk's design and many other companies are taking a closer look. Of course building it in real-life may prove a little more challenging. But, all amazing things always begin with a dream and who knows, maybe in 20-30 years, we may all be traveling aboard the Hyperloop!
Resources: Teslamotors.com, forbes.com, mashable.com, english.cntv.cn, mercurynews.com