Elon Musk’s Hyperloop will get you from L.A. to San Francisco in 30 minutes flat
Elon Musk has announced his plan for the Hyperloop, a revolutionary, high-speed travel network that will fire pods full of people through an elevated tube from L.A. to San Francisco at 760 mph — and for the low, low price of just $20 a head. In similarly realistic news, I am announcing my plan for a revolutionary zero-emissions global ice-cream delivery device that can fire three scoops and a waffle cone from Portland, Ore., to Sub-Saharan Africa utilizing trebuchet technology once thought useless outside the world of punkin chunkin. Like the Hyperloop, my Hyperscoop is a great plan, and like Musk and his Hyperloop, I hope someone else will build it.
In an interview with Wired, Musk described his contraption (pictured here) as “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table,” which is awesome — like, finally-living-in-the-future-as-imagined-by-a-1970s-Micronauts-commercial awesome. Apparently the Hyperloop’s passenger pods would look shockingly like a Pontiac Trans-Sport. They would ride on a cushion of air and be propelled by an AC induction motor like the ones in Musk’s Tesla electric cars. Not only that, but the tubes would be covered with solar panels that would produce more energy than the entire system requires and the whole thing would only cost about 6 billion bucks, or 60,000 100 Grand bars.
Again, I want to stress this would be, like, maybe the coolest thing ever — and if anyone could do it, it would be Elon Musk. Musk created PayPal because he didn’t like the way banks work, and he used that money to build Tesla Motors, the electric car company named for the seminal ’80s hair metal band, and Space-X, his private company which, among other things, has designed vehicles to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.
Of course, he apparently has no interest in doing it himself. It seems pretty clear that Musk has thought a great deal about this, quite possibly while high (I know my friends Matt and Tarik and I used to fantasize about a high-tech monorail that would take us from our dorm to Evan’s all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant at lighting speed), and then mouthed off about it to Bloomberg Businessweek. After that, he had little choice but to put out this 57-page plan [PDF] in the hopes that someone else would do it.
I really wish someone would. Musk’s Hyperloop is just the kind of forward-thinking leap we could all use, and would be far more revolutionary than the expensive ($68 billion) and relatively slow (120 mph, slower than the East Coast’s 150 mph Acela train) proposed California high-speed rail system. And for a massive transportation project using groundbreaking technology, $6 billion is dirt cheap.
Of course, it’s still $6 billion, and probably wildly unrealistic. And frankly, with his incomprehensible wealth, an accent that makes him sound like one of the bad guys from Lethal Weapon 2, and his own South Pacific island rocket base, Musk is a Persian cat and a Nehru Collar away from super-villainy. Is that the kind of guy we want strapping us into an aluminum pod and firing us into the sound barrier?
But if one of you out there is thinking of footing the bill, I would like to point out we could get a working Hyperscoop prototype for about $3,700 in cash and a Ben and Jerry’s sponsorship deal. Anyone? Anyone?
Get Grist in your inbox