Hyperloop super-fast rail to hit milestone

May 10, 2016 by Glenn Chapman
A Tesla Motors concept drawing of the Hyperloop, a fast transport design by Elon Musk

Elon Musk's vision of a Hyperloop transport system that carries passengers in pressurized tubes at near-supersonic speeds is on track to hit a milestone on Tuesday.

Musk outlined his futuristic idea in a paper released in 2013, challenging innovators to bring the dream to life.

Hyperloop Technologies, one of the startups that picked up the gauntlet thrown by Musk, is hosting a "sneak preview of the future of transportation technology" during a two-day event billed as involving a demonstration at a test site outside Las Vegas.

A series of tweets fired from the Twitter account @HyperloopTech teased "big announcements you don't want to miss" and included a video snippet of construction in the desert.

A caption in the video clip heralded a "milestone event" that would be live-tweeted from Las Vegas beginning Tuesday evening there.

Kitty Hawk moment

Late last year, Hyperloop chief executive Rob Lloyd said in an online post that the team was working toward a "Kitty Hawk" moment in 2016.

The post came with word of an agreement to use an industrial park in the city of North Las Vegas to conduct a Propulsion Open Air Test of the blazingly-fast rail system.

Lloyd described it at the time as a very important step on the way to realizing the full potential of Hyperloop Tech.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, unveiled a design in 2013 for a super-fast transport system dubbed "Hyperloop" that could carry passengers in low-pressure tubes at near-supersonic speeds

"Our 'Kitty Hawk' moment refers to our first full system, full scale, full speed test," Lloyd said.

"This will be over two miles of tube with a controlled environment and inside that tube we will levitate a pod and accelerate it to over 700 miles (1,125 kilometers) per hour."

He indicated in the post that a full-scale test might not take place until late this year.

Hyperloop did not reveal what components of the system would be shown in a demonstration slated to take place Wednesday at the test site.

The Hyperloop project went live in 2013 on crowdfunding platform JumpStart Fund, which marries crowdsourcing expertise with crowdfunding.

That year, Musk unveiled a design for a super-fast transport system dubbed "Hyperloop" that could carry passengers in low-pressure tubes at near-supersonic speeds.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau, director of "Iron Man" modeled the main character in the movie—"genius billionaire Tony Stark"—after Elon Musk

Iron Man

The project could connect Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes in a low-cost alternative to a high-speed rail network planned for California.

Musk has said he has no plans to build the system but offered the "open source design" to allow others to pursue a venture. He's called the system a cross between a "Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table."

Jon Favreau, director of "Iron Man," has referred to Musk as a modern-day "Renaissance man."

In an article for Time, Favreau said he and actor Robert Downey Jr. modeled the main character in the movie—"genius billionaire Tony Stark"—after the Silicon Valley star.

Musk told Time that his goal was to be "involved in things that are going to make a significant difference to the future of humanity."

South Africa-born Musk has become one of America's best-known innovators, having launched a payments company, electric carmaker Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity, which makes solar panels for homes and businesses.

He also operates his own foundation focusing on education, clean energy and children's health.

Another approach

Meanwhile, another startup that has picked up the Hyperloop gauntlet announced that its design is incorporating passive magnetic levitation originally conceived by a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

"Utilizing a passive levitation system will eliminate the need for power stations along the Hyperloop track, which makes this system the most suitable for the application and will keep construction costs low," Hyperloop Transportation Technologies chief operating officer Bibop Gresta said in a statement.

"From a safety aspect, the system has huge advantages, levitation occurs purely through movement, therefore if any type of power failure occurs, Hyperloop pods would continue to levitate and only after reaching minimal speeds touch the ground."

After Musk published a white paper describing a futuristic mode of super high-speed rail transit, Hyperloop Transportation "rose to the challenge," it said.

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12 comments

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loneislander
5 / 5 (2) May 10, 2016
"that carries passengers in pressurized tubes"

The tube is evacuated - that's how it achieves the efficiency and speed.
betterexists
1 / 5 (4) May 10, 2016
Why? Why? Why?
We send into Space.
Why not JUST TOSS?
Just Toss into the Beaches Across the Planet.
JUST USE DYNAMITE POWER.
javjav
1 / 5 (1) May 10, 2016
The concept is perfectly possible, but in no way can be built and maintained cheaper than a a high speed train. It can be faster, that's correct, but cheaper? Seriously? How it can be a low pressure pipe cheaper than two simple rails?
Uncle Ira
4.3 / 5 (6) May 10, 2016
The concept is perfectly possible, but in no way can be built and maintained cheaper than a a high speed train. It can be faster, that's correct, but cheaper? Seriously? How it can be a low pressure pipe cheaper than two simple rails?


I haven't spent much time looking into this, so I am just guessing here, eh? The "cheaper" might come from not having to maintain fleets of "locomotives", or provide the energy to drive them. Making small partial vacuum might be "cheaper" than providing the electricity, oil, or whatever to drive the trains.

That might be wrong, but it is interesting idea to me. It sort of reminds of those bottles they use to choot money to you through the tubes at the outside drive-through lane at the bank.
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (4) May 10, 2016
"that carries passengers in pressurized tubes"

The tube is evacuated - that's how it achieves the efficiency and speed.


A tube that is "evacuated" on one side is by the definition "pressurized". That's how the cars should move, pushed by the higher pressure from behind, and pulled by the lower pressure in front. If it was the same pressure front and back, the thing would just sit there and not move.
Kooskroos
3.7 / 5 (3) May 10, 2016
Cheaper the a train coz of..

1) The concept is more suitable for solar power, imagine the tube covered with solar panels, powering the simple and durable vacuum/pressure pumps along the way. So less infrastructure / energy wast.
2) The cart has no engine or fuel to carry, so it can be extremely lightweight. So it costs less energy to move people around.
3) The cart has almost no moving parts or even parts that touch the track, so less wear and tear.

I do wonder how many carts can use the track within a given time frame, so enough commuters can be transported for a to b.
javjav
1 / 5 (1) May 10, 2016
@kroskroos,
1) Solar energy is equally usable for a high speed train, as all of them are electrical
2) neither a high speed train needs to carry any fuel, the use electricity
3) hyperloop may have has less moving parts, but the pressure compressors still need a lot of this, maybe even more than the electrical engine of a locomotive ) , and the complexity is much higher in general than a high speed train. What about security mechanisms each few hundred meters, the need of hitech/highly resistant tubes, magnetic levitation (magnetic rails or equivalent are still neccesary), more complex aerodynamics (you go 1200km/h in a low pressure tube, not in a vacuum), added complexity for going trough curves, earthquake resistance (LA / San Francisco is not precisely a quiet area), prevention of explosive implosion due to small tube crack .. This is not going to be cheaper, that's for sure.
RealScience
5 / 5 (4) May 10, 2016
Why? Why? Why?
We send into Space.
Why not JUST TOSS?
Just Toss into the Beaches Across the Planet.
JUST USE DYNAMITE POWER.


It's your idea, so you try it first and let us know how it turns out...
Max5000
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2016
@javjav. Of course it's not going to be cheaper. Concorde baby. They are now already talking about tubes needing to be 8 meters or 9 meters in diameter to even allow for such high speeds without huge pressure problems. Thats 25+ meters in circumference. Meaning massive, massive! cost increases for materials. Not to mention, massive! scars across your landscape. Now we know a 1mm bump along the rail will already cause massive vibrations. What if a small earth quake struck? People will brake their backs or die violently. This is not like an airplane that glides. It is a tube so a bump is a like a road bump but then at 600 miles per hour. It will seriously harm people. Then the problem of leaks or evacuations. The problem of these enormous scars in the landscape moving into city centers. The problem of having only tiny pods so needing incredible many of them, about 15 times as many as normal high speed trains. Etc. Etc. It`s not going to be able to compete with HSR. Or regular Planes.
Guy_Underbridge
3.9 / 5 (7) May 11, 2016
Hyperloop super-fast rail to hit milestone

I saw a BMW hit a milestone once... did pretty bad damage to the front-end and suspension.
Nanook
4.2 / 5 (5) May 11, 2016
The concept is perfectly possible, but in no way can be built and maintained cheaper than a a high speed train. It can be faster, that's correct, but cheaper? Seriously? How it can be a low pressure pipe cheaper than two simple rails?

You are only considering construction costs, evacuating tubes and levitating the train results in zero friction, the only energy you need expend then is accelerating and decelerating, this makes it very energy efficient and lack of friction also means lack of wear surfaces to maintain. Both things contribute to very low operational costs.
xponen
not rated yet May 11, 2016
The original Hyperloop is just a tiny pod, that's launched in a tube like a bullet. So it's imagined to be cheap. But I guess the final Hyperloop will be bloated with technology, and is going to be fat in size and cost.

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