Seen The Fifth Element? Now here’s The Fifth Mode of Transport – Hyperloop Alpha. Okay, so the Bruce Willis starrer has almost nothing to do with SpaceX founder, Elon Musk’s dream of the Hyperloop. So get flying taxi cabs out of your head. Now picture shuttling through a tube system while seated in a capsule shared by 27 other passengers. If that does not excite any underlying symptoms of agoraphobia and the need for a barf bag, welcome to the future as Musk sees it.
Elon Musk is a man who knows what he’s talking about; you can’t think any less of a person who also happens to be the co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors. And he’s disappointed in the California High Speed Rail, noting it to be one of the most expensive (on a per mile basis) and slowest bullet trains in the world. Contentious, though his opinion may be, the point is that it has given us the awesome Hyperloop Alpha. Planes, trains, automobiles and boats are said to cover the four modes of transport.
This fifth one by Musk may still be in its first stages of ideation, but that hasn’t stopped him from telling everyone all about it. The tube has been pitted against the California High Speed Rail (CHSR) which is presently set to cost $68.4 billion. In theory, the former can apparently cut down on the travel time as well as cost between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The proposed system is calculated to be capable of letting people travel between the aforementioned places in 35 minutes as opposed to CHSR’s roughly 2 hours and 38 minutes for the same.
Two different ways of building the capsules are on the table – designing one that only transports passengers and another which can carry commuters along with their vehicles. Take a look at the first version; it’s clearly a ‘no pit stop, stay strapped in’ construct. The motor, battery and other electronic components are expected to cost $200,000 per capsule, with the expenditure for the suspension system not included here. If 40 passenger-only capsules meet the projected requirements, $54 million will be needed for the Hyperloop. But the cost of the total project is estimated at $4.06 billion.
The tubes themselves are sketched out to be supported by pillars and they will be routed along highways so that the space involved in the construction is minimized. One of the best parts of the Hyperloop? Take the environmental cost of the project and then minus the solar energy it will be using to run itself. The maximum speed of the capsule may be limited to 760mph and passengers won’t be put through inertial accelerations that exceed 0.5g.
Want to take a look at the intricate details of the Hyperloop as proposed by Musk? Hit this link.