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Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is Paving the Way for Future Travel
Close your eyes and imagine sitting in a capsule that’s being propelled over 700 miles per hour through tubes. No, we’re not talking about a fancy roller coaster or something out of a science fiction movie. Here at Big Sky Collision Center, we appreciate the technology of the future and we see more and more of it every day in Billings and throughout the entire state of MT.
Here are some interesting facts about Elon Musk's amazing Hyperloop, which could possibly be the main way we travel in the next decade or so.
It’s called the Hyperloop, and the proposed high-speed transportation system would get you from Los Angeles to San Francisco—normally an hour plane ride or 12-hour Amtrak ride—in about 30 minutes.
In 2013, Elon Musk, the same entrepreneur who brought us Tesla and SpaceX, released a white paper about the Hyperloop. Musk’s vision of this futuristic mode of transportation is based on the idea of capsules floating on a cushion of air and drawing magnetic attraction to move through the airless tube.
Musk challenged others to further explore and develop the concept. Over the past two years, two start-ups have made significant progress.
Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies) demonstrated its electromagnetic propulsion technology earlier this month at a full-scale test track in Nevada. It was the first test of its kind.
In the meantime, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced that it has licensed a technology known as Inductrack. The company also acquired permits to build a five-mile test track in Quay Valley in northern California.
Although Musk is not affiliated with either company, he has supported research and development of the Hyperloop.
Earlier this year, 1,000 students from 120 universities had the opportunity to display prototype Hyperloop pods during a competition sponsored by SpaceX. MIT Hyperloop was the team that won the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, which was held at Texas A&M University. It will be one of the teams to design and build a Hyperloop pod at an open competition scheduled for this summer.
Geared to university students and independent engineering teams, SpaceX is building a one-mile test track near their Hawthorne, California headquarters for the teams to test their human-scale pods.
How realistic is it to construct the Hyperloop? Here are some of the main considerations:
Hefty price tag: Originally estimated to cost $6 billion to build two one-way tracks and 40 pods, some say it could cost up to $16 billion.
Land rights: Musk has said the Hyperloop could be built along Interstate 5. Roadblocks are likely when it comes to the Hyperloop crossing over public and private lands.
Return on investment: Musk’s original vision for the Hyperloop was to carry both passengers and cargo. Some say if the system can’t move as much freight as a railroad, the Hyperloop could have revenue problems.
Security challenges: A possible target for terrorists, an explosion outside of one of the tubes could possibly rip a hole in it, which would create a wall of air that could demolish a pod.
Public acceptance: Moving at close to supersonic speeds in an enclosed tube with no easy exit, may be a hard sell for some.
Despite these concerns, the companies investigating the Hyperloop continue to make progress. Faster than the fastest bullet train and more environmentally friendly than flying, the Hyperloop may sound like something out of science fiction, but may eventually become a reality.