What if you could travel across the U.S. in under an hour? Sending someone from California to New York in just about 45 minutes is what Tesla Motors CEO of Elon Musk envisioned when he thought of the Hyperloop System. This system, a tube transport system that allows passengers to travel at high speeds, will revolutionize the way we view transportation.
The Hyperloop has been vaguely described by Musk as a “cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table.” A better description might be an elevated tube system with a magnetic levitation system similar to high-speed bullet trains. The kicker would be the enclosed tube, which would provide a nearly friction-less surface for individual capsules to travel in.
ET3, based in Longmont, Colo., is currently working on an Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system, which it describes as “space travel on Earth.” It uses two tubes – one for each direction – with passenger car-sized capsules made from fiber reinforced composites and other traditional materials. Each capsule could house up to six people. Trips from state to state could average speeds of around 370 mph, while international trips could reach the 4,000 mph mark, according to ET3. However, this vacuum-sealed high-speed system is not an innovative idea. In 1972, a physicist wrote a paper titled “Very High Speed Transit System” or VHST, which describes a similar system to what ET3 is preparing.
Musk strongly believes that the technology being developed by ET3 is heading in the right direction but that it is lacking in major ways. In a Twitter announcement on July 15, Musk simply tweeted, “Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated.” Needless to say, many manufacturers, designers, engineers and fans will be eager to see what Musk has for us on Aug 12.