Californian billionaire and CEO of alternative energy vehicle company, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) Elon Musk unveils in a blog post his vision for a solar powered network of crash-proof capsules that would transport people from LA to San Francisco in half an hour. If successful, the new system would revolutionize travel between cities.
The Hyperloop system may look like something straight out of a science fiction movie but Musk ensures that such mode of transportation would be very possible. The elaborate 57 page design can be downloaded in pdf format and is available on both the Tesla Motors and SpaceX blogs website.
Musk said in a conference earlier in the year that the Hyperloop system would be a cross between a “Concorde, rail gun and air hockey table”. The project is estimated to cost $6 billion to build and would take 7–10 years to complete. If complete the Hyperloop transportation system would jettison seven million people a year up and down the west coast. If the Hyperloop system becomes a reality, it will change the way we live. Increased efficiency and lower travel times would make Hyperloop transportation intriguing to every consumer. With projected speeds that could reach up to 800 mph, traveling from one city to another is but a short nap away. Hyperloop transportation would theoretically be more efficient than air travel thus making is a very attractive option.
Although the idea seems good at a glance there is a lot of speculation about safety. Jim Powell, co-inventor of the bullet train said that after reviewing the design there is very little protection that a low pressure tube system can offer. As he states, quite morbidly, all a terrorist has to do is throw an explosive at the capsules and everyone in the tube will die. Even the whopping $6 billion dollar estimate is said to be grossly underestimated. Realistically for the project to be viable there needs to be a number of upgrades regarding safety and the estimated projection is closer to $12 billion.
There is still a lot to be done and improvements need to be made. It is expected that there will be a contest open to the public to help improve the design of the system. This sort of public outreach for design improvement is nothing new. We’ve seen in the past, companies like Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) put out a contest to help improve recommendations by 10%.