In a recent development, SpaceX posted a blog update on Monday to announce a competition they’ll be holding, inviting universities and private companies to build a Hyperloop pod based on his open-source designs. They will be building a 1-mile stretch of their Hyperloop designs, and the competition is meant to encourage innovative versions of the passenger pods that shoot around inside the Hyperloop tubes.
For people that are unaware, you know those tubes that are often used to transport messages around large offices, or when you go to a bank, and you put your information in the tube to send over from your car? That’s pretty much what the Hyperloop is, except really big, and fits people inside. Elon Musk himself, once likened the Hyperloop to “cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table“. So, you can imagine it to be something like the pod lifting inside the tube so as to eliminate friction – similar to the air hockey table, then it shoots through the tube like a railgun, transporting passengers as supersonic speeds like a Concorde.
The importance of the Hyperloop being built comes from the cost and efficiency. In a 58-page paper, Musk claimed that the Hyperloop could be built over the same stretch of land as the California High Speed Rail, connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco for only $6 Billion, which is compared to the $68 Billion that the existing California Train system has cost. The pods should be able to hold around 28 people, and they should move up to 760 miles per hour – considering the distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco is only around 380 miles, that would mean the Hyperloop could transport 28 people per pod, between the two cities in a little over 30 minutes. And, since they plan to have only around 23 miles between each pod while traveling, they could theoretically move around 840 passengers per hour, assuming no breaks we taken. Or, they could stretch the trip out a little, and make small stops at cities between. Honestly, the idea that someone can comute from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less time than my morning commute 12 miles away, is rather amazing.
Just to post the link one more time, head over to this link to sign up for the competition. Maybe, if a functional 1-mile stretch of the Hyperloop designs can be constructed, that will get investors on-board, and will make this fantasy a reality.