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Elon Musk's 'Hyperloop': More Details Revealed

samzenpus posted 1 year,20 days | from the behind-the-scenes dept.

Transportation 533

astroengine writes "Entrepreneur Elon Musk revealed details today about his concept for a high-speed transportation system he calls the Hyperloop. After tweeting that he'd pulled an all-nighter preparing for the announcement, Musk told Businessweek that the design could transport people as well as cars inside aluminum pods that move up to 800 miles per hour through a tube. The tubes would be mounted on columns 50 to 100 yards apart, not interfering with land needs because it would essentially follow major highways, such as I-75 in California."

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I-75? (5, Informative)

dtmos (447842) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546779)

. . . it would essentially follow major highways, such as I-75 in California.

Let the record show that TFA correctly states "I-5". Somebody in Michigan needs to watch his typos.

Re:I-75? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546907)

And here I was thinking that it also folded space-time!

Re:I-75? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546943)

Let the record show that TFA correctly states "I-5". Somebody in Michigan needs to watch his typos.

Not the first link. At least not as of the time I read it. The Slashdot summary is a pure cut and paste (with links restored) of the first paragraph from the Discovery News article.

Re:I-75? (-1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546955)

. . . it would essentially follow major highways, such as I-75 in California.

Let the record show that TFA correctly states "I-5". Somebody in Michigan needs to watch his typos.

Hey, it's Elon Musk, if he doesn't know I-75 runs from Sault Ste Marie, Michigan (say ja to da up, eh!) all the way to Hialeah, Florida, do you trust his 800 miles per hour pod racer?

Re:I-75? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547185)

It is the article on Discovery that has the typo. The PDF from the Tesla Motors Blog says: "...alongside the mostly very straight California Interstate 5 highway..."

Re:I-75? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547011)

Lets see... build a system where one small misalignment will mean crashes that kill passengers, in a state that has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the US... Riiiiiiiiiiiight...

Re:I-75? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547123)

How is that different from the current highway system in CA? The "pod" would be traveling a lot faster but it doesn't take much of a mistake for a 60 MPH vehicle to wreak havoc on anything in its path.

Re:I-75? (2)

PraiseBob (1923958) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547269)

There are an estimated 6 million car crashes every year in the US. Roughly 35,000 people die in those crashes. There is no way of knowing what percentage happen at what speed, but still, your chances of surviving a car accident are overall pretty good. Your chances of surviving a crash at 800mph are 0.00000000%

Re:I-75? (2)

crakbone (860662) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547183)

Evidently you have never driven on the 101 in California, High speed and earthquakes is a California tradition.

Re:I-75? (5, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547307)

Lets see... build a system where one small misalignment will mean crashes that kill passengers, in a state that has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the US... Riiiiiiiiiiiight...

The faultlines are mostly along the coast. The hyperloop would run mostly through the central valley. Even if there was a big quake, the seismic waves would take time to propagate, so there would be time to react.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It just needs to be an improvement on the alternatives. If you look at the current plan for high speed rail between SF to LA, almost anything would be an improvement.

I-75....in California?!?!? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546791)

I don't know what to say about the rest of the summary but IIRC, Interstate 75 doesn't go further west than Ohio/Indiana.

Re:I-75....in California?!?!? (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546927)

Na, never makes it to Indiana, but it goes north from Detroit all the way to the Canadian border at Sault Ste Marie in the Upper Peninsula. On the south end, it goes somewhere in Southern Florida (not sure where, never been all the way to that end).

In a world without boundry layer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546797)

and light, ultra-powerful electric motors, Elon Musk is a visionary.

Genesis II from Gene Roddenberry and Elon Musk (1)

aisnota (98420) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546803)

Elon, you remind us to do better than the conventional wisdom says!

Kudos to your enthusiasm. Also for reawakening us all and note, Genesis II from Gene Roddenberry also features such transport with underground based vacuum systems world wide too.

Re:Genesis II from Gene Roddenberry and Elon Musk (2)

OneAhead (1495535) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546971)

But, but... propulison... partial vacuum... cost... bounday layer... turbulence... lateral accellerations...
Oh never mind, if Gene Roddenberry said so, it must work.

Re:Genesis II from Gene Roddenberry and Elon Musk (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547053)

two words, Inertial Dampers.

Sorry had to say it.

Cool but probably not feasible... (3, Insightful)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546817)

The problem I see with this is while it's nice to dream about 800 mph travel, I can't imagine that it would be feasible to construct a track or tube that could follow the terrain at that speed and still maintain passenger comfort. If you are building above-ground supports, you don't want them to be 500 ft tall as would probably be required in order to keep the tube straight enough for passenger comfort and safety.

very unfeasible (1)

mozumder (178398) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546865)

The tubes are going to be expensive as hell.

Rail is far more efficient. The track itself is cheap, the major cost is actually buying the land. There is very little friction resistance as well.

Sorry Elon, but you're not going to be Tony Stark, even if they're just trying to make him into you.

Re:very unfeasible (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546913)

Rail is far more efficient. The track itself is cheap, the major cost is actually buying the land. There is very little friction resistance as well.

That's actually a problem past a certain speed. At least in the U.S., they don't allow trains to travel at high speeds in populated areas because they can't usefully stop if somebody walks across the rail. They can't stop because there is very little friction possible. With a closed tube, you don't have that risk, so you can shoot through downtown L.A. doing 250 MPH.

Re:very unfeasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546957)

Rail is far more efficient. The track itself is cheap, the major cost is actually buying the land. There is very little friction resistance as well.

That's actually a problem past a certain speed. At least in the U.S., they don't allow trains to travel at high speeds in populated areas because they can't usefully stop if somebody walks across the rail. They can't stop because there is very little friction possible. With a closed tube, you don't have that risk, so you can shoot through downtown L.A. doing 250 MPH.

So put up a chain link/plexiglass fence around it. Or better yet, worry less about drunks. Build the fence for cows anyway though.

Re:very unfeasible (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546975)

It would be a LOT cheaper to build an access control fence then to build a tube that will hold good vacuum.

You can't stop a train _anywhere_ when someone walks across the rail. That's just evolution in action. I just hope they haven't bred when I hear about things like that.

Re:very unfeasible (1)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547007)

No, you can't, but the faster the train is moving, the greater the danger, because the less warning you have before it gets there. Hence, speed is severely limited when traveling through populated eras, even with access control fences.

Re:very unfeasible (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547273)

Most areas are populated. Some just not very densely.

I'm fine with losing the kind of morons that climb fences onto high speed rail tracks. In fact I think the fences are unneeded.

Re:very unfeasible (1)

kylegordon (159137) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547039)

The article explicitly states that the tube does not hold a vacuum, and thus greatly reduces costs.

Re:very unfeasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547073)

Musk's design doesn't require a vacuum.

But you would know that if you bothered reading his 5 page summary at the beginning of his 50+ page analysis.

Re:very unfeasible (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547249)

Then he's completely insane and doesn't understand. Likely never heard of boundary layers or looked at how they pump gasses down existing pipelines.

Of course I didn't RTFA. Are you new here?

Re:very unfeasible (2)

dgatwood (11270) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546983)

Also, you can't climb hills with rail. Standard rails max out at a single-digit percent grade. If you want to climb more than five or six feet per hundred feet, rail can't do the job. That severely limits where you can run it; in particular, it is not practical to run a rail alongside most roads that go through mountains, much less run one at anything approaching a high speed.

Re:very unfeasible (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547033)

It seems like one could deter people from walking across the rails with some sort of symbolic notification device? To not reinvent the wheel, we could reuse the old inventions of "words" on a "sign":

WARNING
TRAINS GO THROUGH HERE
THEY GO REALLY FAST
IF THEY HIT YOU YOU'RE DEAD
EVEN IF YOU'RE DRUNK

or something.

We haven't roped off every cliff in the mountains, even though people die there. We've not even put warning signs on a lot of dangerous things ("WARNING: THIS IS A BEAR. DO NOT POKE IT. IT IS BIGGER THAN YOU. EVEN IF YOU'RE DRUNK.") Why do we need derp-proof railways?

Re:very unfeasible (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547099)

A sign like this becomes a magnet to suicidal people, who I think represent the majority of people killed by train impact. The tube pretty much removes any chance of such suicides taking place.

Re:very unfeasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547151)

Try running into a 200lb human being at 220Mph and then tell me who's day got fucked up more--the idiot you disintegrated or you and your car. In dollar figures, it's certainly not the guy who lost the genetic lottery.

Re:very unfeasible (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547175)

Which doesn't solve the problem of 1) idiots who ignore it to save themselves 5 minutes walking to the nearest crossing 2) people who sadly commit suicide 3) idiots proving how 'brave' they are to their friends. Besides the injuries to the person who should've known better, it has considerable impacts on others. The drivers will be extremely upset by it, needing counselling and often quitting their job afterwards, many passengers may be similarly scarred, and in the short term the time and money costs of the damage to the train/track and delays (which will cascade even onto other routes) is considerable... more than enough to invest in fencing to save money.

Re:very unfeasible (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547215)

That would be why the rail is usually grade separated at that speed, i.e. roads run under or over the tracks. Hell, even mainlines here in Sweden are mostly grade-separated, and where they are not there are systems in place to detect obstacles and stop the train before the train driver can physically see the obstruction. And we only have trains running 200 kph, you can be pretty sure that railways that allow trains to run at over 300 kph are entirely grade separated.

Re:Cool but probably not feasible... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547001)

Considering the speed of sound at sea level is 761 mph...
- noise pollution?
- shockwaves/heat and their effect on durability?
It seems to me he has absolutely NO idea about the very real engineering challenges to something like this. I expect that is such a project was ever approved, it would run 15 years late and come in at least 50x over budget.

The article talks about sonic booms... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547153)

It seems to me he has absolutely NO idea about the very real engineering challenges to something like this.

it seems to me you didn't rtfa.

- noise pollution?

And: no sonic boom. With warm air inside the tubes and high tailwinds, the pods could travel at high speeds without crossing the sound barrier. âoeThe pod can go just below the speed of sound relative to the air,â Musk says.

shockwaves/heat and their effect on durability?

Inside the tubes, the pods would be mounted on thin skis made out of inconel, a trusted alloy of SpaceX that can withstand high pressure and heat. Air gets pumped through little holes in the skis to make an air cushion, Musk says.

Re:Cool but probably not feasible... (4, Informative)

The Cat (19816) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547295)

It seems to me he has absolutely NO idea about the very real engineering challenges to something like this.

As opposed to some smartass cunt on the Internet.

By your logic we should be hand-carrying water buckets around to wash our ass with. FUCK I wish this site would go back to what it once was.

Re:Cool but probably not feasible... (2)

crakbone (860662) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547299)

Your probably right. It's not like he put in a whole new privatized space program at a cost less than a nuclear submarine. With a launch charge cheaper than the cost of a ticket to ISS.

Re:Cool but probably not feasible... (5, Insightful)

ZigMonty (524212) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547127)

The problem I see with this is while it's nice to dream about 800 mph travel, I can't imagine that it would be feasible to construct a track or tube that could follow the terrain at that speed and still maintain passenger comfort. If you are building above-ground supports, you don't want them to be 500 ft tall as would probably be required in order to keep the tube straight enough for passenger comfort and safety.

Luckily, advancement doesn't have to wait for the average guy's imagination to catch up. Have you actually read the proposal or are you just doing the usual slashdot thing?

The guy runs two companies, one in the space business and one that makes electric cars. I'm sure he'll need to ask a construction company for advice about the pillars, etc, but is there any reason to suppose he hasn't run this past the best engineers in those two companies? I'm sure his cost estimates are off, they can only be estimates this early in a design study, but it's not like he doesn't have engineers that know aerodynamics and vehicle design.

I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until real rebuttal arrives, say from someone who can point out actual errors in the proposal.

Re:Cool but probably not feasible... (1)

mozumder (178398) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547229)

Have you actually read the proposal

His proposal says it'll cost $1 billion for land & permit rights.

Try $50 billion instead.

Again, the major cost of transportation is the actual cost of the land.

And the land-use issues & solutions are just as applicable to high-speed rail.

Basically this entire report is a big ad for pageview hits to the Tesla motors website.

Re:Cool but probably not feasible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547251)

It is fantastic to have someone proposing something that is exciting, new and potentially a sea-change.

It is really easy to try and poke holes in something, it is not easy to come up with and flesh out this type of idea.

If people were able to life an entire city 10 feet in the 1800s and even reverse the flow of a river (http://99percentinvisible.org/) more than 100 years ago, why shouldn't we get behind something aspirational like this?

He's nuts (-1, Troll)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546849)

Musk had a supply of good crack that week. Also thinks anything he doesn't understand is easy.

Re:He's nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546963)

He pulled an all-nighter.

That's only 20% of the promised speed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546851)

of 4,000 MPH. If he is already reducing his promise by 80%, how much more do you think he's going to reduce it after running into problems with the final design and after building it? In the end, I'll be surprised if this project is faster than driving.

Re:That's only 20% of the promised speed... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547133)

He never promised anything remotely near 4,000 MPH. He promised about a half hour between LA and SF. Proposal does it in 35 minutes, which is indeed about a half hour.

Technical challenges (1)

bob.lansdorp (2954263) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546855)

What about the steam storage? Would it be under pressure? If so, isn't that dangerous in case of a leak? If not wouldn't the tanks need to be gigantic? Also, what about friction of air between the inlet and the nozzle expander?

Re:Technical challenges (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547009)

What steam storage? The article seemed to say that air would be forced through skis at the bottom of the pods by an air compressor and thrust would be provided by magnets.

Re:Technical challenges (1)

bob.lansdorp (2954263) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547291)

What steam storage? The article seemed to say that air would be forced through skis at the bottom of the pods by an air compressor and thrust would be provided by magnets.

Oh there are more details here: http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/hyperloop_alpha-20130812.pdf [spacex.com] There is steam storage

Zoom...!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546881)

Woosh!!!

"You don't want to live in Tube Land." (1)

Lendrick (314723) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546885)

Speak for yourself, Musk. Tube Land sounds awesome.

Better for freight carrier replacement (4, Insightful)

x181 (2677887) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546891)

I think it would be a much better replacement for freight trains and trucks. I'm guessing that may be their goal but they don't want to upset the train and trucker unions just yet. I'd say Amazon should get it on this as well to speed up their shipping times and hit their same-day delivery dream.

here's an idea and just as plausible as elon's (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546893)

Why not just put everyone inside a giant cannon with wingsuits / parachutes and let them land under their own power on the other side. It'd probably be safer, not to mention way more fun.

Re:here's an idea and just as plausible as elon's (2, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547055)

I look forward to the day I can commute via trebuchet and parachute.

Cheaper than high-speed rail??? (0)

OneAhead (1495535) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546897)

How on earth can he possibly keep on insisting that all this will be cheaper than a high-speed rail? It just flies in the face of common sense.
Oh right, an all-nighter sometimes does that to you. Hope he regains his senses soon.

Real prices vs. fantasy prices (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546947)

It's simple: there's no way of knowing exactly what the hyperloop would really cost to build, since one has never been built. He's comparing real-world prices to fantasy prices.

it's much like how pharmaceuticals that haven't been released yet always seem to promise "no side effects."

Re:Cheaper than high-speed rail??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547049)

For high-speed rail, you either need to buy up vast tracts of land (some parts in areas with very high property values, as that's where you want the stations), or shut down large parts of the current rail network (either for long periods, or short periods with very slow progress) reducing fare revenue. You then have to clear that land, and if it's fresh build do large amounts of earthwork/tunnelling to get it into the correct shape to take a railway line (no sharp curves horizontally or vertically), and even if it's an upgrade some earthwork may be necessary (higher speed requires even gentler curves) if you want to operate that stretch at higher speed. On top of that there's additional work to gauge clear for whatever rolling stock you're going to operate. The track is assembled on site. And long-term, the track and cabling are open to the weather, vandals, metal thieves, etc.

This scheme meanwhile has prefab track sections, avoiding the bespoke assembly, and requires little earthwork (installing struts after ensuring the ground gives sufficient support) and can presumably done with at worst the closure of one or two lanes of freeway. Long-term repairs to problems caused by external factors is reduced (although track maintenance for mechanical wear would still be necessary, as well as checking the support structures and track housing was undamaged).

I haven't done the maths (and don't have the numbers to do it anywhere near precisely), but you can see where potentially huge savings could in theory be made. It's not just a clear-cut "it's in the air so it must be far more expensive" thing.

Re:Cheaper than high-speed rail??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547063)

It just flies in the face of common sense.

Maybe this thing is feasible and maybe it isn't. But either way, "common sense" has historically had a poor track record on this sort of thing, and appeals to it have no place in a rational discussion.

Re:Cheaper than high-speed rail??? (3, Insightful)

KingMotley (944240) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547205)

Common sense would tell you that the earth is the center of the universe and the sun rotates around it.

Tubes (5, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546917)

Can these tubes also be used to carry the innernet?

Re:Tubes (1)

Entropius (188861) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547041)

Only if there's a series of them.

Re:Tubes (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547157)

Can these tubes also be used to carry the innernet?

Sure, just back it up on tape, and send it on its way...

Re:Tubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547169)

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a hperloop full of magnetic tapes.

Red tape is the problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546919)

It's been over 5 years since money was initially dumped into the California high speed rail project. After 5 years and 15 billion dollars we still don't have a single foot of track. If we can't even get two pieces of metal in the ground, what makes it believable that miles of metal tubes would be any easier and cheaper.

Re:Red tape is the problem (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547025)

Red tape could be a helper here.

They should be acquiring rights of way with _all_ of the initial money. Then start building when the population has grown to the point where it can run at break even.

But politically it was a non-starter without money for the construction unions.

Re:Red tape is the problem (1)

Mashiki (184564) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547129)

Probably not. Taken a good look recently on how much red tape you need to go through for even the most simple building projects in the US? Hell at my place down in Florida, it took me nearly 2 years go get a live oak cut down. That was *after* it had been hit by lightening, caught on fire, was infested with ants, and was leaning on the neighbors house.

Re:Red tape is the problem (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547211)

We don't want them building yet. We want them to buy up as much land as reasonably possible before real estate recovers.

That way in 50 years, when it actually makes sense to build HSR, the land will not be too expensive.

Flori-duh is special. Like the special Olympics. I would have 'trimmed it for safety' rather aggressively. Gotten rid of the 'live' issue, then dealt with what was left.

Re:Red tape is the problem (1)

djupedal (584558) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547137)

+1 mod up...good idea or not, govt. will find a way to get in the way.

Re:Red tape is the problem (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547171)

It's been over 5 years since money was initially dumped into the California high speed rail project. After 5 years and 15 billion dollars we still don't have a single foot of track. If we can't even get two pieces of metal in the ground, what makes it believable that miles of metal tubes would be any easier and cheaper.

Well, presumably it'd be someone other than California doing the project.

Re:Red tape is the problem (1)

KingMotley (944240) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547221)

Because it was the gov'ment that is doing the high speed rail, while the hyperloop would likely be done by a private company, and only after the cities involved had agreed to get the hell out of way.

Just start with converting a normal highway (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546935)

No need for tubes and whatnot, simply allow for high speed autonomous vehicles on a "normal" highway. ~200 mph speeds with no humans in control. It'd be way better than a train, and autonomous driving conditions could be well controlled since the road could be designed with them in mind.

Re:Just start with converting a normal highway (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547045)

Have you ever driven on the fun side of 100mph? If you had, you would not suggest this. Many people have a hard time keeping their brakes serviced and think that tires that hold air are good by definition.

Re:Just start with converting a normal highway (1)

KingMotley (944240) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547239)

Yes, and I would suggest it. But only for cars designed to actually go that fast. No, your supercharged smartfortwo doesn't count.

INCONEL!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546951)

INCONEL!!
$$$$
I guess you gotta start some where.

How safe would this be? (1)

elbonia (2452474) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546985)

I know that the original target speed was 4000 mph but even at 800-1000 mph how safe will this be when a fast deceleration occurs. In a plane during a crash it skids, hopefully, in a empty field or ocean and then comes to a stop. In a car there are crumple zones to absorb the impact to slow down the deceleration. It doesn't seem like there would be the enough padding to make it stop reasonably. This idea seems to be great but only if it had it's own separate rail section to handle emergencies. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2005/09/13/1459026.htm [abc.net.au]

Re:How safe would this be? (1)

Microlith (54737) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547121)

A fast deceleration caused by what? Most fast-decelerations that planes suffer are imposed at 9.8m/s^2 and kill a good chunk of the passengers as they slam into the ground, so I don't see how accidents could be much worse given how few people ride per pod.

Re:How safe would this be? (3, Informative)

elbonia (2452474) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547313)

A fast deceleration caused by what?
Like detecting a crack or fault in the tube structure shortly ahead of the current location and it needs to come to an immediate stop.

Most fast-decelerations that planes suffer are imposed at 9.8m/s^2...
Actually almost None do, a plane becomes a glider when it's engines quits and glides to the ground. 9.8 m/s^2 would imply that it descends straight down like a rock with no air resistance. When engines fail planes can glide to a landing and then skid on the ground with the resistance of the ground slowing the plane down during the "slapdown"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Impact_Demonstration

Re:How safe would this be? (4, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547333)

The target speed was never 4000 MPH (I think you're confusing this with ET3's proposal). For deceleration: emergency brakes and the cars have wheels for emergencies. One question that should be asked is, what is it going to crash into? Not other capsules, they're moving away from you and have a huge safety margin of distance between them. Not the station, it's a passive system that handles deceleration (no power required). If the capsule needs to decelerate themselves for some reason, you're going from a maximum of 760 MPH to 0 MPH using the capsule's mechanical emergency breaking system. At the same deceleration as the capsules would accelerate, that's about seventy seconds over roughly seven and a half miles. Which is much faster than a high-speed train can do the same thing.

The document Must posted does cover several emergency scenarios. Passenger health emergency? Best thing is to keep going to next station as scheduled, with a maximum trip length of 35 minutes it's the fastest way to get an active response, and much faster than you can get emergency services to an in-flight aircraft. Major depressurization of a car? Actuate emergency breaks on all cars and rapidly re-pressurize the entire tube. Major earthquake (beyond the ability of the pylon dampers to handle)? Emergency break all the capsules and wait it out. Power outage? The system has many times more stored battery capacity to complete all in-progress journeys. Power failure of system itself? Cars are self-powered, so can coast a decent distance themselves, and then the batteries normally used to power the turbine can be used instead to power motors on the emergency wheels to get the capsules either to the station at the end of the line or the closest emergency exit location. I'm sure there are tons of possibilities that haven't been accounted for, but many are.

Hmm. 800mph in a tube suspended in the air... (1)

srijon (1091345) | 1 year,20 days | (#44546989)

in a region known for earthquakes. sounds fun!

Sounds good until you realize there's no bathrooms (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44546997)

I guess you just shit yourself.

Re:Sounds good until you realize there's no bathro (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547089)

It's less than an hour. How many people get up to go to the bathroom in a packed theater after just one hour? I do think it'd be smart to put one small toilet on there though. If you're spending that much money, a black water tank and pump-out isn't going to kill it. It does make the maintenance procedures less pleasant though. Maybe they could just have regular bathrooms close by at both ends.

Re:Sounds good until you realize there's no bathro (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547279)

*hands the man his bedpan + suction nozzle* Who said we didn't think of everything?

Just another boondoggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547005)

Please spare us more articles about how it will work. It's not going to work. It's not meant to work. It's meant to generate a few development contracts for big bucks, then a few more construction contracts for even bigger bucks, and then fail in a rather long and drawn out way so that nobody actually has to take the blame.

I've seen this before (1)

OzPeter (195038) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547029)

“The pods would be mounted on thin skis made out of inconel, a trusted alloy of SpaceX that can withstand high pressure and heat,” Vance wrote. Air would get pumped through tiny holes in the inconel skis to create an air cushion, and it would get there via an electric turbo compressor. An electromagnetic pulse would each pod an initial thrust.

I saw this described almost exactly the same in a popular science magazine in Australia in the mid '70's . I can still picture the cover illustration, but damned if I can remember the title of the magazine ("Scientific Australia"????)

And so it begins (5, Funny)

kylegordon (159137) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547051)

All the /. experts come out of their caves to debunk a paper by a guy that brought us internet payments, commercial space travel, and luxury electric cars.

Re:And so it begins (1)

The Cat (19816) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547131)

Wins the FUCKING thread. Take a bow, sir.

Re:And so it begins (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547143)

He already said he's not going to do this one, so don't hold your breath.

Re:And so it begins (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547201)

All the /. experts come out of their caves to debunk a paper by a guy that brought us internet payments, commercial space travel, and luxury electric cars.

except he hasn't really "brought us" any of those , he merely built upon existing stuff and managed to kiss the right buttocks to secure funding. Not exactly revolutionary .. impressive as a business feat but that is all.

Re:And so it begins (1)

The Cat (19816) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547259)

Well, at least you didn't start with "actually." You're still a towering cock, but at least you didn't start with "actually."

Re:And so it begins (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547213)

All the /. experts come out of their caves

I'm not coming out of my cave. It's the only place with decent WiFi coverage...

What makes him think this can be done? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547061)

Ok, building an electric car is one thing, since public utilities, like roads, don't need to be heavily modified; but dreaming of a high speed rail... quite a bit needs to be done for that. Why are we even posting this? There's plenty of people dreaming, my 6 old daughter thinks there should be an emergency slide to get from a space station back to earth. Where's her article?

Given that California has been struggling since the 80s to establish high speed rail between LA and SF... I doubt this will get any consideration. We've finally got approval for the project to start with initial rounds of funding being approved for a project that will cost at least $50Billion.

I also dream of having a gold plated urinal in my Ferrari filled garage but like Elon, that's just dreaming.

Re:What makes him think this can be done? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547161)

There's plenty of people dreaming, my 6 old daughter thinks there should be an emergency slide to get from a space station back to earth. Where's her article?

That's my question too, why haven't you gotten her to write it? People might actually be interested in that.

I also dream of having a gold plated urinal in my Ferrari filled garage but like Elon, that's just dreaming.

Just so you know, a gold plated urinal would probably cost less than $1000. Gold plating is surprisingly inexpensive.

Re:What makes him think this can be done? (1)

Microlith (54737) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547179)

Why are we even posting this?

Because it's interesting, and the guy who thought of it has a decent track record?

There's plenty of people dreaming, my 6 old daughter thinks there should be an emergency slide to get from a space station back to earth. Where's her article?

Because your daughter's idea is an uneducated flight of fancy. Given she's 6, it's forgivable. This is hypothetical, but not as silly as an emergency slide from the ISS to the ground.

Re:What makes him think this can be done? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547181)

I understand your view and to an extent I agree with it, but a lot of people thought Musk was crazy for thinking that he could build rockets basically from the ground up for a few hundred million dollars. There were many who said that such a program would need billions just to get the first launch, but he came up with a way to do it for far less than most expected. He might have something here, though whether it's possible at any price in the current California political environment is a very good question.

Re:What makes him think this can be done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547263)

There's plenty of people dreaming, my 6 old daughter thinks there should be an emergency slide to get from a space station back to earth. Where's her article?

If she had a net worth of over $5 billion, I'm sure people would listen to her emergency space slide idea too.

And (1)

The Cat (19816) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547093)

Cue the pack of bleating neckbearded Mythbusters-humping assholes screaming "IT WILL NEVER WORK BECAUSE I AM SCIENTIST!" before they go back to their bongs and gripe because there are no jobs and there's no reason to go to college any more.

Now mod it down because you're a butthurt crying bitch.

Intended usage is for commuting (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44547097)

>> "Since Hyperloop travel time is very short, the main usage is more for commuting than for vacations. "

I wish he didn't specify the intended usage of the hyperloop transportation system.
Saying that it's intended for commuting should be omitted from his engineering spec.

I love the obvious technologies (5, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547101)

I love it when simple obvious, and in this case old, technologies blow expensive and complicated technologies out of the water. Let's see, an old pneumatic message system with cars big enough for people. Cheap, easy to build, probably dirt cheap to run and maintain. Wow.

But there is huge problem with this system. Being so cheap and simple there is little room for massive companies to lobby/sell their complicated overpriced technologies. Tubes? How long is the list of companies that could build tubes? Pylons? How long is the list of companies that can build pylons? The train cars are a bit more limited but again not being maglev that list is still pretty long. Land purchases? I suspect that a bunch of insiders had land all lined up to sell.

Then you get other technocrats who don't like that their territory is being infringed. The rail people are probably scared that this might be independently run.

And lastly you get the aviation related interests that are far larger than most people might think. You have the oil refineries who will be unhappy to sell less fuel to both planes and cars, you have taxi drivers who run people to the airports, you of course have the airlines themselves, and you have the airports who will be unhappy to have fewer landings and takeoffs. Plus the no-doubt 50 unions who run the airports among others.

A tube system like this would be pure evil as far as those people are concerned dropping people off right down-town, how dare they.

Re:I love the obvious technologies (0)

The Cat (19816) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547207)

In other words, it will never work.

I loves me some Slashdot fucks who get a zipper-bending erection about anything "scientific," (defined as anything that doesn't involve girls) then scream at every attempt to advance technology with tears streaming down their face about how it won't work.

No wonder nobody listens to you assholes any more.

Re:I love the obvious technologies (0)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547247)

there is nothing simple about such a system when you are attempting to safely transport humans; you are obviously not an engineer

Magnetic fields for passengers (3, Interesting)

TheSync (5291) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547155)

The one thing I did not see is what the expected magnetic field levels will be for passengers.

Many folks with implanted medical devices are told to stay away from significant RF and magnetic fields. It is possible that the pod could be magnetically shielded enough, but it would be great if he added that info.

Otherwise, I say scrap the Cali High Speed Rail and build Hyperloop instead!

(The truth is that I bet the Casinos would throw in the first billion to build one from LA to Vegas...they dumped $650 million on the Las Vegas monorail).

Remarkably Cheap! (1)

edelbrp (62429) | 1 year,20 days | (#44547287)

The one thing that bothers me is how cheap he estimates it to be. Just 6-7 billion which is about 10 percent of the cost of the competing design. Just the steel for the tube (and being thick enough to not crush under atmospheric pressure) has got to be crazy expensive. He estimates 4 or 5 billion (depending on diameter size), but that seems low? Anybody know the cost of steel on projects of this magnitude?

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