Hyperloop was the brainchild of Elon Musk in 2013, but due to his business ventures in other areas – like conquering space, and the automotive industries, his idea is only now beginning to pick up some momentum. Hyperloop Transport Technologies was a crowd funded business venture that got its wings thanks to donors on the popular donation platform Kickstarter. The campaign gave early life to the plan that Musk said would be reality, and a more cost-effective method of travel, without having to be thousands of feet in the air.
The startup which is based out of California first had its eye on a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and then back – or the other way around. Both ways would work flawlessly with the concept as it sits. The thought process behind the operation is that travelers would sit in a capsule, locked in, and be propelled via fans inside the track where the capsules would be housed. The air would then push the capsules an estimated 760 mph, or 460 mph depending who you ask – and get you to your destination in just a half-hour. Currently, this is a piece of travel that is nearly impossible to make – though Hyperloop doesn’t solve the political and geographical issues that exist currently with that track.
The current track design – which spans the entire United States and connects a plethora of major cities across the country – like New York City, Seattle, Atlanta, and many more – would aim to make regional travel easier – than major, nationwide travel. For example, anyone who would be looking to travel on this Hyperloop track from an East Coast city to a West Coast city, would have to undergo several stops in-between before actually arriving at their destination.
On Friday, though, a report revealed by the company showed that there were no major safety concerns, or design concerns with the project itself – and that the biggest challenge would be making the mode of transportation profitable for companies who take on the travel method while still keeping the cost of tickets low and in the projected $30-60 price range, depending on your itinerary or destination.
CEO and co-founder of the Hyperloop Transport Technologies was quick to point out though that a project like this – which would be started with the L.A. to San Francisco track line – would cost significantly less than current plans to expand railways, and could be done in a decade or less. However, even with a positive report the general consensus on pushing the limits of travel has been significantly less positive. After Virgin recently cancelled their deep sea exploration trips – which would have eventually been made open to the public upon operational failure of glass on the craft, and the well-known and highly-televised accident in October involving Virgin Galactic – there are legitimate safety concerns with this project as well.
For example, with any craft moving as quickly as these undoubtedly will. Many are curious about how effectively the craft will stop in an emergency event. The report that was released, though points out that “A possible method to make an emergency brake procedure in a fast and reliable way might be to use the Kantrowitz effect. If air from the outside is allowed to come into the tube and equalize the pressure with the exterior, the capsule will suddenly have to go through and push a lot of air. At 300 meters per second the capsule will start compressing the air in front of it, working as a syringe head.” The report even goes on to point out that additionally, “some spoilers could be deployed to help block air in front of it.”
Right now, though the biggest roadblock facing the project is the $16 billion funding gap that exists. The Hyperloop startup is working to reach the $16 billion funding goal to make the next step of the process possible.
Image Courtesy: UCLA