Elon Musk’s futuristic view of transportation in vacuum tubes is becoming closer and closer to reality.
Musk’s Hyperloop White Paper
When Elon Musk released his white paper for the Hyperloop in 2013, he made it quite clear what he envisioned. A tube r running from San Francisco to Los Angeles largely following Interstate I-5 in which aluminum pods could reach speeds of nearly 800 miles making the journey in less than 35 minutes. Recognizing that those speeds could only be achieved with little to no friction he laid out his plan for a tube to be kept at very low pressures that would not create a vacuum. And in order to minimize friction further his plan was to equip each pod with compressor fans on both the front and the back of each.
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He saw it as something that could could be achieved in four or five years time under the strong guidance of a project lead. That person was not to be Musk as he pointed out by saying, “If it was my top priority, I could probably get it done in one or two years.”
And that’s when he opened his idea up to the world and asked for others to step in to the fray.
Two companies emerge to tackle the Hyperloop
Without paying close attention, the two companies that are “competing” to become the pioneers in the field sound like the same company. The first to emerge was Hyperloop Transport Technologies (HTT) a crowdsourced company that boasts nearly 500 engineers from over 20 countries and includes current and former employees of NASA, SpaceX, Boeing and Musk’s Tesla.
COO of Hyperloop Transport Technologies (HTT), Bibop Gresta, says of the group, “We are not a company, we are movement.” When speaking of those on board he added, “These are people that literally changed the history of this planet.”
Gresta’s disdain for the other Hyperloop player is quite clear.
When answering questions in London this week, Gresta made it clear that HTT would not be publishing a white paper which is believed to have made improvements on the Musk Model.
“HTT has no immediate plans to publish a white paper on its technology,” said Gresta.
“We haven’t disclosed anything we are doing because there’s another company [Hyperloop Technologies] that came out months ago and we didn’t like their approach,” says Gresta. “These guys came out and they used our same name and they used our logo. So this is kind of weird.”
The HTT Quay Valley Hyperloop test track
The company announced that within a “couple of weeks” it would begin construction of its 5-mile Hyperloop test track that will serve as a testing ground for a number of companies to test pod designs.
With construction slated for Kings County, California, the track is expected to cost around $6 billion and be finished in about two years. In that two years, HTT hopes to transport as many as 10 million people at a capped speed of 160 miles per hour for manned trips. However, testing of empty pods is expected to exceed 750mph.
The original cost of the test track was estimated at around $100 million. That’s not happening and presently HTT is looking at a 50% increase ($150 million) to make it perfect as well as earthquake proof with solar power systems powering the Hyperloop.
Where the money will come from is anyone’s guess but HTT’s COO certainly has some ideas.
CORRECTION: I WRONGLY IDENTIFIED THE COST OF THE TEST TRACK AT $6 BILLION, THAT IS THE ESTIMATED COST OF THE ENTIRE LOS ANGELES TO SAN FRANCISCO HYPERLOOP.