Pioneered by inventor and engineer Elon Musk and unveiled to the public in 2013, the Hyperloop is a future transportation means that is safer, faster, and cheaper than current forms of mass transit. For a prototype, it’s garnering a lot of attention and gaining momentum worldwide.
What Exactly Is the Hyperloop?
This novel form of high-speed travel uses large pressurized pods, similar to modern train or airplane cabins, to transport people or cargo through enormous vacuum tubes. In a sense, the Hyperloop is a futuristic subway system dependent upon compressed air and magnets.
Considering it takes about seven to eight horsepower (hp) of electrical energy to produce one hp of compressed air, Hyperloop has unique energy requirements. Reducing drag and friction are necessary for an efficient run. The train relies on a series of electromagnetic motors and an industrial-scale rail gun to assist pods in reaching speeds in excess of 700 MPH. Additionally, air bearings ensure near-frictionless travel.
Benefits for California & Beyond
Elon Musk and his team champion many benefits. Apart from affordability, safety and speed, the Hyperloop is highly self-sustainable, self-powering, resistant to extreme weather, more convenient and efficient than modern forms of transportation.
Musk's initial plan covers a track that runs from Los Angeles to San Francisco. A successful project of this scale certainly paves the way for longer distances in the future. In fact, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies began talks with governmental officials in Slovakia about connecting Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava.
The Future of the Hyperloop
While we have yet to see a full-sized, full-speed test of the Hyperloop, Musk is hopeful his team will be able to achieve one by the end of 2016. If so, this invention could connect people in a way previously unimagined.