Info on Elons's HYPERLOOP?

Info on Elons's HYPERLOOP?

In the D11 conference Elon mentioned that he might spill some beans about the hyperloop after the pack swap announcement...they had some Q&A from the audience and someone asks to deliberate, but if he did "it will be the news tomorrow" he said. which makes me think its gonna be sweeeeet. the hyperloop sounds like it will be awe inspiring.

specifically, the question is at 50:00

olanmills | June 25, 2013

I hope I can hyperloop from Seattle to SF. I wonder what ranges the hyperloop will be practical for? Will it work well for very short trips? Long trips? Can the same hyperloop serve short and long routes?

TeslaRocks | June 26, 2013

Without getting into details of how it might work, I have two theories about why Elon keeps holding off on giving details.

1- The hyperloop is mostly to tease us and attract attention for the benefit of his other projects, such as free publicity for Tesla.

2- Along the way, Elon realized that instead of just giving away the idea as open source, which is good, he could keep it to incorporate into his other plans, which is better. He could make the Hyperloop especially large to accomodate freight (complete game changer for the whole industry of shipping: faster, cheaper) and also so EV owners could bring their car in the pod with them so they can get around conveniently at destination. Even better, they could find a way, with a proprietary fitting device or whatever, to make it so only Tesla vehicles could go on it, like how the chargers protect the superchargers from other EVs. Imagine the appeal if you could buy a car that's already the cleanest around, but which you can also take around the world faster than you can fly there, for much cheaper, and without pollution. Tesla would become the Google of the auto world. (Suddenly, all my pipe dreams I had concluded would never happen so long as Big Oil is around now seem possible, all because someone has balls, brains, and financial muscles big enough to dare stand up against the madness.) Who knows, maybe Elon even realized that a variation of the Hyperloop, perhaps with a ramp up a tall mountain, could even be a way to launch spaceships much more affordably, easily, and quickly than with current technology. And from the perspective of Solarcity, if the hyperloop involves a giant superconductor, maybe Elon even has ambitions to combine the transportation network with a new zero-loss electricity transmission network that will reshape the industry (import, export), but also allow for cost-effective storage of electricity as he suggested, which is particularly useful for renewables. No matter how I look at it, Elon manages to make me feel like a peon in a board game, at best, which is very humbling for me and greatly appreciated. Thank you, Mr Musk. I really hope it all works out, and I wish I could help but I'm too scared to ask because you're much, much more impressive than Netscape ever was.

Brian H | June 26, 2013

OTOH, maybe interested parties have approached him, and now already have details and are working on it. And prefer it not be made public.

Tslarevolution | June 26, 2013

That would be fricken nuts! i can clearly see Elon to be the one to make the future look like it does in the movies!

TeslaRocks | June 27, 2013

Thinking of it, the hyperloop-variant ramp up a tall mountain WOULD in fact be a lot like a mix between a Concord, railgun, and air hockey table, in my view. The Concord is obviously the fastest ride ever, the railgun is the shape of the ramp and how electricity is used to accelerate the object, and the air hockey table is because for it to work, air resistance would have to be insignificant inside and right after exiting this gigantic cannon. I can think of two ways to do that. A vacuum, which would need a door at the exit that hopefully opens in time and probably a fatal shock when the projectile meets the incoming air. Or a strong back wind that will follow the craft and help push it forward when it leaves the tunnel. A multitude of holes all around the tube will start injecting air in it as soon as the vehicle passes by them, building up pressure behind it.

Neglecting air resistance, an initial velocity of 11,000 m/s or 30 times the speed of sound from H = 0 will allow an object to forever leave the Earth (never fall back). From my calculations, an object could reach an altitude of 150 km if its speed at launch from 4 km altitude is 1,673 m/s or 4.6 times the speed of sound. I orginally imagined a ramp from West to East that curves up the slope of a mountain, but perhaps the better solution is a vertical hole from the top of a tall mountain almost like Mount Elbert in Colorado at 4,400 m. However, a 4km ramp may not be enough to limit g forces to a safe and practical level for space ship launch. Digging 6 km below sea level to reach a total tunnel length of 10 km would limit accelerations to about 15 g's, which I think could be made safe for fit astronauts with the right suits and seats to prevent blood from concentrating in one part of their bodies. At least they can go test their tolerate beforehand in the centrifuge so there should be no surprise. I think this contraption could only give a boost to a spaceship as opposed to giving it enough speed to orbit at 150 km, because the speed needed at launch to do that would be 9,488 m/s or 26 machs, require 460 g's along the 10 km ramp! So rockets will need to keep making an efford, too, but it would be really helpful to have a fully fueld rocket starting at 150 km high instead of 0. While looking up what is a safe level of g's I came accross the space gun and Quicklaunch, which is very similar. Sounds like it is being built already.

TeslaRocks | June 27, 2013

The space ramp I described would be useful when launches become very common, such as every 15 minutes, as is probably the case in Elon's view of an awesome future. For in the meantime and even after for oversized cargo, I'm casually researching the possibility of an inflatable spaceship that would have a huge hydrogen balloon (or many small ones) to lift it to about 40 km, where the rocket will ignite to burn the hydrogen (most likely with oxygen) to slowly rise the rest of the way and start orbiting as soon as possible (maybe 100 km or so).

Brian H | June 27, 2013

It would make a spectacular rising meteor. Most impressive. Not survivable.

TeslaRocks | June 27, 2013

While I'm at it, if someone cares to hear a few more of my space ideas, here is about the Moon and preparing for interstellar voyages.

I one day would like to see people living and working inside the Moon. The place would be prepared by solar-powered robots that would bore many holes in one area, process the removed material to extract the silica (which is 45% of the ore) and lime (12%-16% of ore) which would be melted and poured in the holes to seal them with glass. The holes would widen towards the surface and the glass would be rounded on the top, so this almost mushroom shape would gather sunlight and direct it down this giant fiber optic. Below those glass mushrooms, tunnels and even large chambers would be excavated and solidified/secured. Before anything is added, the tunnels and chambers will also need to be sealed, perhaps also with a generous layer of molten glass sprayed over every surface, to keep air and water in. Oxygen is plentiful in Moon rocks, but nitrogen and carbon will be in short supply and will probably need to be imported to complete the atmosphere inside the Moon. The lunar regolith also contains some hydrogen that is originally from the solar wind, which means that more can be collected during the day. Water made from this oxygen and hydrogen would allow to both wash the tunnels and chambers and also feed the plants that will eventually be grown there. The washing is important because the microscopic dust on the Moon and Mars is very harmful to people and equipment. Living underground would be much safer and much more comfortable than at the surface.

One interesting occupation on the Moon could be astronomy: the entire far side of the Moon could be a gigantic telescope, or more realistically, an array of a multitude of smaller ones. If Hubble Space Telescope could see far because of no atmosphere, imagine how far and clearly we could see now. What is currently the edge of the observable universe and conveniently about where we assume the universe to have started (or from the other perspective, to end), with this Moon telescope we may see many times further and find yet more galaxies similar to ours, which will be another observable contradiction of big bang theory. Maybe by then it will be clear to everyone that the universe is infinite in every way.

Some manufacturing, such as giant interstellar spaceships, will be better fabricated or at least assembled in space. Solar panel arrays orbiting the Sun will provide plenty of energy for 3D printing a galactic fleet. Those panels could even form a rotating ring that orbits the Sun. The interstellar ships will have a fusion reactor inside, probably Helium-3 powered, for acceleration at start and finish but also to act as a small Sun during the long journey. Better to have many such reactors, rather than just one, in case it fails. The ship will need a lot of redundancy, which is one reason why it will need to be so huge. It may reach a significant fraction of the speed of light, such as 10% or 25%, but even at those high speeds it would take half a lifetime to arrive at even any of the nearest stars. Those brave souls on board may have no idea what to expect as they approach another solar system, which could be home to an alien civilization or could be completely inhospitable.

Brian H | June 27, 2013

It seems boring holes may not be necessary. Entrances to large lava tube caverns have been spotted, ready made for use.

TeslaRocks | June 27, 2013

Alright then, so that might cut down on the wait before Lunatics can sing and run around naked in their underground rainforest while observing the ends of the Universe.

TFMethane | June 28, 2013


Your enthusiasm is as adorable as it is boundless. One thing about Elon Musk: He is not hiding any scientific breakthroughs like room temperature superconductors. He has stated that the Hyperloop can be constructed several different ways with existing technology.

He's not holding the secret to super-fast martian or lunar travel. He clearly states that his Mars project requires only current technology and some small incremental innovations.

Elon is a dreamer, but he's trying to do things in his lifetime. He's not trying to jump straight to the StarTrek universe.

He is also a businessman, and he is focusing his horizon-pushing on things that are economically viable, even in the development stage (like SpaceX).

Keep dreaming, and writing, though. That's the kind of thing that will push the Musks of the next century onward. Just don't get your hopes up for far-side moon astronomy bases in your own lifetime... we can barely keep the South Pole station funded and the ISS staffed and supplied.

TeslaRocks | June 28, 2013


It will be fun if someday you just have to dream up an idea and an army of robots and software carry it out for almost no cost and no hassle compared to today. Dreaming crazy stuff has always been my escape, so of course I'm a sucker for following Elon Musk's adventures, among many others. I do appreciate that there are great challenges associated with any project, even the most mundane. I routinely consider many that we could call realistic, although I tend to get a little pessimistic when I think of all the challenges. However, I feel that much of the world's elite lacks imagination and sometimes even common sense, which is why I sometimes wonder if some of my ideas could prove useful if shared with the right people. The ICE-automobile has probably been the biggest nonsense to survive the turn of the 21rst century, as most people here will agree, because it leaves people stuck with an inefficient and expensive machine that is addicted to vast quantities of a substance that is supplied by only an exclusive club of companies and isn't renewable. I don't see any difference between oil addiction and drug addiction, except that the cartel supplying the former operates within the law. We have bicycles to try to avoid using oil, but they are not practical if you must carry people and things over great distances, within reasonable time, and through harsh weather, so the absence of an ideal solution always appeared to me as a conspiracy since it is quite easy to imagine when you look at the various elements that exist but haven't been combined in an appealing way. Fortunately, Tesla is changing all that, one model at a time, each model reaching closer to that goal of a vehicle with no drawbacks. If Tesla holds true to its noble ambitions, I believe it will someday deliver a vehicle that is perfect and that anyone who can afford to eat and wear clothes can afford to drive, almost like a bicycle. This would be powerful when you consider that most of tomorrow's new drivers are presently dirt poor. It also bring another question that I wouldn't mind hearing Elon views on, that in rushing to offer clean vehicles to new drivers, are we also running the risk of increase the prevalence of car culture with all its current perverse effects? I like to think that ideally, someone in a city should be able to walk to do most of what they must do and I hate having to drive places on a daily basis... which is why I can often be seen riding a bicycle and pulling my kids in a wagon.

Vawlkus | July 8, 2013

3D printer. How good are you at drawing your dreams on a computer?

Brian H | July 8, 2013

Moving around is of more interest to most than you assume. The Agenda 21-style "dream" of herding everyone (a much-reduced 'everyone') into dense enclaves, leaving the rest of the world (aside from ?peon/robot? farming requirements) is dystopian, not utopian.

Brian H | July 8, 2013

Edit: the rest of the world fallow ....

carlgo | July 10, 2013

It will be interesting if the Hyperloop is generally accepted as being a better and cheaper alternative to the high speed rail system. Musk says it is, but he may have to build a section of it someplace to demonstrate the technology.

The ensuing politics will be interesting. A lot of people have been working for decades to get a high speed rail system built and they won't be real eager to abandon their dream.

PorfirioR | July 10, 2013

Sometimes I like to stir the pot a little bit and also let my imagination run.

Those of you interested in this topic have no doubt read about the ET3 consortium and Daryl Oster, who is sometimes listed as the "inventor" of evacuated tube transport technology. However, Mr. Oster himself often states that this technology has been invented/patented for over 100 years and all he is doing is trying to make the concept a reality (sounds familiar?).

Heck, Robert Goddard (of NASA/space travel fame) documented his vactrain concept in the 1910s. His wife patented the invention in 1945 after Goddard died.

So, I started reading more and found numerous patents for this type of technology. One that seemed interesting was US Patent 5146853 filed in 1990:

Ever the conspiracy theorist, I noted that the inventor of US5146853 is one Dr. Galen Suppes, who is actually a chemical engineer. Guess what he works on now? Apparently, among other things, new battery technology for EVs:

I would imagine that Dr. Suppes is on Elon's radar and that ET3 would have to go through Suppes and all those patent holders in order to make the concept a reality. Anybody who has watched video of Daryl Oster can tell two things: 1) he is a brilliant man, 2) he should never be the front man for any enterprise. And one can continue to speculate from here...

This is all just fantastic speculation on my part, just having fun with this thread.

Brian H | July 12, 2013

Not vacuum. Pressurized. Suck and Blow system.

carlgo | July 12, 2013

Well, that would increase ridership...

carlgo | July 14, 2013

killmats' post above has an interesting link. A Colorado company has plans for a Hyperloop sort of project. No mention if this is the same technology as Musk's vision, or if there is any collaboration between him and the company ET3 (evacuated tube).

They are building a test track tube thing this year.

TeslaRocks | July 15, 2013

Push and blow sounds safer in many ways and would explain why it must be a loop, so the air can just cycle around with hopefully minimal friction. In the case of one pod being in the way and moving too slowly, the air between it and the next pod coming down the tube would get compressed and act as a cushion that would help slow down the incoming pod to a manageable collision that giant rubber bumpers on each pod could handle.

Yesterday I was with the family at a water park and we went on a ride called the jungle run which is just a pool shaped as a long winding loop and where the water is being pushed along in it so it just goes in circle. Similar concept, where the "road" does the work and that should make it more reliable, safer, and cheaper to operate because the pods can be very simplistic, giant pills with rubber bumpers.

I just hope that whoever builds it has the vision to make it huge enough to carry cars and freight in the pods so it can be a full and practical solution to transportation needs, even though it could hurt my railway stocks. Nothing could beat driving your EV to the nearest hyperloop station, parking it in a pod after having paid for the very affordable fee, then enjoying a fast ride to a far destination, and upon arrival you can just drive off to where you are going in the comfort of your own car and with still a mostly full charge. Maybe your kids won't even wake up. Best of both worlds. Because each group would have their own pod, security would not have to be anything like at airports, especially if the circuit can be stopped quickly in an emergency.

Perfect match for Tesla, I tell ya!

carlgo | July 15, 2013

Musk to give details on Hyperloop Aug 12.

lph | July 15, 2013

Blowing air through pipes have losses so this not energy free. Ask any HVAC engineer.

carlgo | July 15, 2013

The Colorado company, ET3, uses vacuum tubes for a frictionless transportation experience.

TeslaRocks: they also say that larger tubes greatly increase costs and have settled on something around five feet in diameter. A twenty-inch tube would be great for people who were willing to lie down in a capsule and be propelled 4000 mph...Anyway, car sized tubes would seem to be out. Maybe Musk's technology overcomes this.

Above all, judging from their Q & A section, while people are thrilled about the idea, actually getting into one and being propelled at thousands of miles an hour in a tube simply terrifies them.

Public acceptance might be as hard to overcome as engineering problems.

Brian H | July 15, 2013

Magnetically levitated capsules, with higher pressure behind than in front, are not frictionless -- but close enough for government work.

TeslaRocks | July 16, 2013

@Brian H
What do you mean: "for government work"? Hopefully a hyperloop network would be private (or as public stock-market-listed company) and heavily regulated like utilities or seriously self-regulated like rail. I honestly can't see how any government could operate such a system, no more than I can see a government inventing the next popular consumer electronic device. There are many things we need government for, such as providing healthcare for all citizens at no charge, maintaining roads, and being in charge of the military, but innovation and low cost is not their area of expertise.

Some form of magnetic or quantum levitation would indeed eliminate rolling resistance, so the only energy loss would be related to air flow which largely depends on the design of the hyperloop (straight probably better, as curves would cause turbulence) and the inner surface of the walls of the tube. A perfect design would also require some really advanced physics simulations and testting. Of course, general speed would be a function of the speed of the air flow through the cycle, but local speed would be an inverse function of the diameter of the tube in a given location, following bernoulli's principle, so that the tube would widen towards destination points (and also at curves, which should happen to be the same as the destination points). It would already run pretty smoothly without any computers or software involved, and software could make it even safer. For example, seismological data would be monitored continuously and software would stop the system as soon as a significant tremor is recorded.

For the two sides of the loop to be straight, the hyperloop would probably have to be mostly underground since there are too many obstacles on the surface, too many people or things to move. Such a structure above the surface, especially high segments, also would probably be vulnerable to high winds and other forms of adverse weather, also emergency conditions could be eliminated with forecasting. Erosion and extreme temperatures could remain a problem at the surface.

TeslaRocks | July 16, 2013

Correction: last "also" was meant to be "although". Missed that one.

TeslaRocks | July 16, 2013

Elon Musk on Twitter: "Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated."

I would love to provide critical feedback on the Hyperloop when the time comes, Elon. It will have to be here unless I can reach you otherwise or I get unblocked on Twitter. ; )
I'm sorry if you thought I was annoying, sorry for wasting your time.

carlgo | July 16, 2013

If the Hyperloop is indeed 1/10th the cost of the High Speed Rail deal, it could certainly be primarily a private enterprise. $7 billion for the SF to LA run is easily raised if the idea is sound. The Guvment will be involved in issues of eminent domain, environment, etc. plus there could be seed money. It is in the public interest that this sort of system should be in place if it works as advertised.

Don't forget that ET3 said 90 some percent of all freight can be handled by five foot diameter pods. This could be very profitable. People passengers are just part of the deal.

carlgo | July 16, 2013

I shoulda added that Musk has a great track record and has worked well with government at all levels. Politicians are more likely to approve projects with him than with relative unknowns.

Brian H | July 16, 2013

"Good enough for government work" is a standard jest phrase. Sorry I can't bring you up to speed on the whole cultural matrix required to interpret it. Google it and read a few essays.

J.T. | July 17, 2013

The fact that Elon is foregoing the patent process smacks of Benjamin Franklin.

PorfirioR | July 17, 2013

Although there is something very noble about developing a concept and publishing it for all to use and benefit from it, I expect that Elon's plan will have a very direct (and potentially profitable) tie-in with solar energy (Solar City) and energy storage (Tesla).

Even if none of the technology ends up being proprietary, this is the classic business strategy of "growing the pie". The hyperloop idea is not as much a distraction as people think - there are sound business reasons for Elon to push this idea and it may not be as crazy as starting an electric car company 10 years ago.

Benz | July 17, 2013

@ PorfirioR


carlgo | July 17, 2013

Perhaps his stature, and we hope a practical plan, will launch the project without needing his every day involvement, much like Ben's stove.

Brian H | July 17, 2013

Battery availability is looming as a constraint on growth, without adding to the demand!

TeslaRocks | July 18, 2013

There are enough barriers to entry with the Hyperloop without creating another one with a patent, so open source makes sense. Patents are more of a headache and not as good as most people think they are. I think it will become a bit like railroads in the US in the early days, where many companies will get involved, but any route or link between two points can only support one or maybe two roads, so the fool who builds the last duplicate track (3rd, 4th, 5th...) will be doomed to losing money. Actually, they would all lose money, but at least the most established ones can hopefully hang on and buy out the competition. But all that hardly matters, because the real goal is to eliminate the need or use for oil in transportation. I hope it succeeds, because that's long been my personal obsession, too, to move toward making oil obsolete, even though I've felt mostly helpless at that goal.

PorfirioR | July 18, 2013

I will add a couple more pennies to my two cents.

I agree with Brian that battery availability will be a constraint. However, I see a surplus on the other side of the battery lifecycle looming over the horizon. Soon enough there will be thousands (millions?) of EV batteries looking to be re-purposed as they reach their end-of-life as EV batteries.

I have also been thinking lately of the other implications for this new technology - it could be transformational to our society like the car and the airplane were, but much quicker and in ways we can't imagine.

Imagine if you could live somewhere where the cost of living is very, very low. Let's also say that the same place can act as a logistics hub with cheap warehouse space. It could be even a place that does not yet exist. Then imagine that, even while living there, you could work anywhere within 500 miles.

You could theoretically create a community of people who work in very high-income business centers (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago) but commute there via hyperloop from places where the cost of living is much cheaper and the quality of life is better. During non-commute hours, the hyperloops could be used to ferry cargo to the cities from the logistics hubs, which could be co-located with runways for cargo planes (until we no longer need those). Meaning that the hyperloop would not only revolutionize how those commuters live but everyone else in the city served by removing trucks off the streets and airplanes from the city's airport. In other words, 100% of the population involved would benefit even if they never use the hyperloop. This would create a mutually-beneficial network of node pairs in the hyperloop network.

Eventually, you could even have a cargo-only hyperloop network from all the seaports to logistics hubs which would interface with the city-to-city network of hyperloops to deliver same-day cargo anywhere without ever using fossil fuels. Thereby potentially reducing/eliminating the need to ever find a zero-emission equivalent to the tractor trailer truck.

The hyperloop (or something like it) has the potential of bringing a new industrial revolution combined with a social revolution. This is probably what Jeremy Rifkin had in mind in "The Third Industrial Revolution" (, but that sounded so utopian that I never thought I could imagine it being possible in my lifetime.

Ok, maybe that was more than two cents...

Brian H | July 18, 2013

Keep in mind that the purpose of patents is to make knowledge and designs publicly available, as opposed to closely held trade secrets or ideas that go to the grave with their developers. The patents must be detailed enough so that those "skilled in the art" can replicate the object or process.

In compensation for revealing all, the inventor gets a decade or two of exclusive right to use/market the invention. Then it's fair game.

Bubba2000 | July 18, 2013

Hyperloop could be designed as follow:
1. Vacuum inside a loop. No air resistance.
2. Capsule inside floating on magnetic "rails". No friction. Magnetic rails could propel the capsule.
3. Reverse fields for regenerative braking. Saves big on energy.

The problem is that such a system would cost big$$$. Most people who are in a hurry can fly. Otherwise, just drive. CA is better off spending the money to pay off the state debts, cut taxes, etc. Their taxes are way too hi.

I am long Tesla, but Elon needs to focus on SpaceX, Tesla and his family. Leave Hyperloop to the politicians. Mars voyage? Right! Let Gov Moonbeam dream that one.

carlgo | July 18, 2013

It does seem that he may lend his ideas, name and prestige to the Hyperloop but he is not going to stay up all night feverishly working out gasket retention issues. Musk has said that colonizing Mars may be mankind's most important next step. It is his focus, not a side project.

That is why he started a rocket company, something that has nothing to do with electrified transportation, but a lot about going to Mars.

He fully intends to make the trip himself.

Brian H | July 18, 2013

Nope. No vacuum. Pressure gradient, higher at rear, less in front, maglev. "Crash-proof, inexpensive". QED.

EvaP | July 19, 2013

This is what made me interested in Elon as a person in the first place. I think that we are destined to spread life to other planets and Moon and Mars seem to be the logical next step.

Also, I have been toying with the idea of having magnetic roads that propel cars instead of the cars moving and repel each other so there can't be a collision. I have read they are working on it somewhere....

I do a bit of science fiction writing and wrote about vehicles similar to the hyperloop. Something that is in an underground tube and is moved by magnetism or some other energy source we still have to invent. Therefore, I think Elon is one of the most fascinating personalities of our time.

My heroes have never been the Mother Theresas or Dalai Lamas. Human goodness lasts only until the next war that turns people into animals again.... But progress is something fascinating that has no end in sight.

I apologize for being philosophical. I just wanted to explain why I think this is the most exciting thing that we can witness at present.

Brian H | July 19, 2013

With maglev, there may be electrical propulsion, but the Hyperloop is "cheap and crash-proof", so I think it is simpler: pressurized, not vacuum. Air pressure fore/aft is manipulated to propel modules (or at least eliminate resistance). I call it the Suck and Blow system.

TeslaRocks | July 24, 2013

You raise interesting points and I agree with most or all of what you said in your recent posts in this thread. I would add that following the trend of the last decade or so (decreasing or stalled prices for many things as a result of increased competitivity, masked by rising oil and other natural resource prices), I feel that we will soon reach a paradigm shift where the cost of transformed goods falls another level, falls down another floor if you will, because of improved technology (the maturing of older techniques as well as new ways to design, make, and manage, largely due to software) and increased competitivity. I'm not sure commuting long distance will be a growing trend, because of capacity issues and in the face of new technology that allows telework, but I do see a technology like the hyperloop really hurt some industries like air travel and rapid courriers. A revolution in freight is also possible, but it would have to be based on cost rather than only speed, because most cargo is not worth rushing, and competitive costs may take a while despite lower operating cost because of the massive infrastructure that would need to be built first. Naturally, it would go to the highest bidder first (i.e. rich business people), until capacity is increased progressively until it reaches glut proportion (if ever), at which point competing truck and rail routes will be in for huge losses. Before such massive build-up, the technology will need to be proven, refined, and made easily scalable, which could take decades, especially if there are a few snags along the way.

So yes, if lower cost and faster transportation occurs, that could cascade into yet higher global competitivity, which combined with a new batch of technology, will probably make traditional work almost an archaic concept. Unemployment will probably be high unless those "spare workers" can repurpose themselves as designers, researchers, and technicians of the new machines. On the bright side of things, the cost of living could be even lower than it is now, generally speaking, especially when people have an alternative to oil thanks to things like EVs and the hyperloop. Although a minority of people might be extremely busy and sought after, most people will have more free time than ever and the hardest time ever feeling useful. Among this majority of people, problems of depression and mental illness could be a very significant concern, which will create a need for people to nurture their minds more effectively than today's entertainment options, possibly leading to a new industry that ultimately involves giving people purpose. That would be both very futuristic and arguably part of anyone's definition of an awesome future. Another possible bright spot would of course be the possibility to do things that are still today not even imaginable, as a result of new technology, knowledge, and progress. This will hopefully include advanced psychological care as suggested above, more advanced medicine available to more people, and a high quality of life overall that includes access to natural beauty.

Brian H,
I agree with you, but I think that patents are increasingly problematic in that they are a relic of the industrial age which is hardly worth pursuing in many cases. In some areas like with Tesla, they are essential, but often they are a lot of trouble to obtain and defend, and even then they leave you vulnerable to patent trolls (especially in the case of a small start-up, as explained by the article posted on these boards a few weeks ago, about innovators vs rent-seekers). In this context, releasing an invention as open source is a better option because it costs nothing and the idea becomes public domain and cannot be patented later on. You cannot be sued successfully for intellectual property infringement if all the knowledge is public. Like I and someone else suggested in another post, some people would already be advantaged in the hyperloop business, in particular Elon with a running start and ties to both Tesla Motors and Solarcity, not to forget lots of professional contacts to help him build it quickly if he wants to.

There are better ways for it to works, as described by Brian, me, and possibly others in this thread. For example: although they are not mutually exclusive, an acceleration related to the levitation system would not be needed because following the air flow should be sufficient, a bit like a log in a river. When considering these improvements compared to what you described, the cost would be very much reduced. Design and early testing would remain high, but if each pod no longer needs complex systems and is really more like a log floating in the water, then you can get huge economies of scale. I look forward to August.

Sanjuro | July 29, 2013

ExtremeTech has some interesting speculations on how the Hyperloop might work.

Hi_Tech | July 29, 2013

@Brian - "Suck and Blow system"? Any reference to SpaceBalls?

Brian H | July 29, 2013

Easiest way to eliminate air friction. Make your enemy your friend. "First principles" + cheap + crash-proof. Vacuum is a non-starter.

carlgo | July 30, 2013

It is interesting that it seems as though the ET3 system is vacuum and the Musk system is air flow. Two sort of opposite approaches from people who evidently know what they are doing.

While both might work our similarly in theory (not saying this, just a maybe), the devil is in the details like how to route off capsules to different branches, loading and unloading them without losing/gaining air and so on.

My guess is that they system that allows for a better customer experience will prevail over one that is simply more efficient or faster.

The best technology doesn't always win, and even if Musk's system isn't as good, and this is a big if, he probably has a huge advantage over ET3 in actually getting it built.

Perhaps a vacuum system would require a stronger and more expensive tube. Maybe Musk's system could be clear plastic for a terrifying view of the ground going by at thousand of MPH (I think there would have to be video monitors for windows and the image would have to be slowed down to something more reassuring).