Hyperloop plans reveal today - 2013/08/12

Hyperloop plans reveal today - 2013/08/12

Today's the day Elon said he would publish plans. Any trace or track of them yet?

Loboc | August 12, 2013

There is a bunch of net traffic saying that it will be today, but, I don't see anything yet.

GeekEV | August 12, 2013

Per @elonmusk:

Pulled all nighter working on Hyperloop (as did others). Hopefully not too many mistakes. Will publish link at 1:30 PDT.

dpazdan | August 12, 2013

I'm hoping he integrates Tesla into this as it looks like the stock might be negatively impacted otherwise.

TheJenish | August 12, 2013

Just 2 hours to go for it.

"A SpaceX spokesperson said that the design details will also be posted on both Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) and SpaceX websites"

olanmills | August 12, 2013

Nothing yet, but it could be any minute now...

Quick! Everyone, these are your last possible moments to wildly speculate about the hyperloop! You won't have another chance! You better speculate now!

I heard some very solid rumors that Elon will construct tunnels through hyperdimensional space (hence the term "hyperloop") which will connect large distances in our normal space but just be short trips through those nifty other dimensions. The key risk is that it might unleash monsters from another dimension into our world.

L8MDL | August 12, 2013
Mark Z | August 12, 2013

The 57 page .pdf file will take a bit of time to digest.

But, I did enjoy reading this on Page 9:

"The only system that comes close to matching the low energy requirements of Hyperloop is the fully electric Tesla Model S."

Driving the Model S could be called a "HyperDrive" road trip!

nwdiver93 | August 12, 2013

Thank you Team Elon ...

Now comes the hard part; convincing people that this needs to be built...

olanmills | August 12, 2013

Updated version on the way as well...

Pneuman | August 12, 2013

Hard to believe 57 pages was from a single all nighter but happy to see some attention to capsule or capsule-like tube transport. I wonder if the team considered abandoned rail lines as possible routes or part of the route.

Anthony H | August 12, 2013

A news article indicated a team of up to 12 have been slowly working on it for about nine months.

jk2014 | August 12, 2013

...right now reminds me of the movie Contact where the discovered "alien" plan was feverishly being translated to see what the hell we have to build.

procarl | August 12, 2013

Elon quote: "Up to 1000 employees of Tesla and Space X worked on the hyperloop idea".

I wish a few of those were diverted instead to handling the business at hand at Tesla: Getting rid of the vampire drain problem once and for all, now.

frmercado | August 12, 2013


Here is a man that is trying to revolutionize the way we travel in a way that can only be compared to the advent of the passenger jet or the steam locomotive and you are whining because, according to you, resources are being deviated from finding out minor quirks in your car?

How do you even know if this was done during the various people involved off time?

What a selfish, self serving human being (this is a compliment) you are!

Hopefully you are an old geezer in his eighties and you will soon die along with the rest of your retrograd thinking peers that would rather spend 70 billion of public money of a State that is almost bankrupt than to try and innovate and support an idea that might considerably change transportation and society as we know it for the better.

Jeez!! This world could definitely do with a lot less people like you and with more Elons…

evanstumpges | August 12, 2013

Just read through the full PDF. It seems fairly thorough and well laid out, but there still many finer details to be worked out so that a prototype could be tested. Crowd sourced design for an awesome public transit system like this is a cool idea and I for one am glad that Elon and some of his employees have put in some time to get the concept to this point. If the idea is ultimately realized, it will have a tremendously positive impact on people, environment, and reducing the cost of public transit!

Brian H | August 12, 2013

RTWT. Still a few glitches; I think the total time for the various sections of the route total more than the 30 minute LA-SF trip projections. But that's comparatively minor contrasted with Moonbeam's 2½ hr low-speed train that costs 10X as much!

Brian H | August 12, 2013

Note the suggested extensions to SD and LV.

J.T. | August 12, 2013


Why are you holding back? Tell him what you really think!

Brian H | August 12, 2013

I note the Bloomberg article got the pylon spacing wrong; it's 100', not 50-100 yds.

J.T. | August 12, 2013

@ Brian H. Don't tell us, tell them! Do we really have to read your corrections of things that aren't even posted on the forum? :-)

procarl | August 12, 2013

@afrmercado. Other than the adhominem diatribe, I notice that you have nothing to say about the premise in my post. Glad you apparently agree!

26delta | August 12, 2013

If the cost estimates are correct, I could see this system being built between Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand at 25% of the annual budget for "Roads of National Significance".

If my understanding of the concept is correct, the system is limited to use over land. How can the system be adapted to traverse water? Down here in New Zealand, we have to rely on ferries and airlines to transport freight between the North and South islands. A submarine traverse adaptation would allow the hyperloop to extend to Christchurch and Dunnedin in the South Island.

26delta | August 12, 2013

I see a potential problem in the proposed design of the stations. The proposal is to rotate the capsule for the return through the outbound tube. Given the interval between capsules, the major failure point would be the turntables. Substantial space would be required to house the number of turntables plus spares needed for peak traffic periods. Consideration must also be given to handling of capsules in the event of a turntable failure. My recommendation is to double-end the capsules, with compressors at both ends and shift the capsules laterally via a belt mechanism to a mid-point for unloading and loading before shifting them to the outbound tube. Multiple belts, including backups, could be maintained in less space than required for multiple turntables.

frmercado | August 12, 2013


The only thing on which I agree with you is that my post is, as you put it, nothing but a diatribe and has no place in this thread; for that I apologize to the rest of the forum's readers,unfortunately, it cannot be deleted. I do, however, feel that neither your comment nor mine bring anything positive to this thread.

I'll finish by saying that I do not agree with your position since it is based on the assumption that resources and work hours from both Tesla and Space X were used to accomplish this study. Something that neither of us can know for sure.

I'm confident that you know what they say about assumptions...

I will not comment any further on this subject, lest this argument be turned into trolling.

Cindy I II III | August 12, 2013

Read the whole 57 pages. better than any TV show.

I wonder if the Chinese government will take this on.
- it can act fast, needs only approval from the top.
- population density in Beijing ~20 million and Shanghai ~23 million
- ~ 770 miles which is within the suggested 900 miles
- pollution is at the point of national crisis
- the new president should want something successful to call his own
- double the cost for doubled distance is still peanuts for the Chinese government budget
- right to use land should not be an issue
- the open source nature of the project makes it legidamate to do
- China just built some of the fastest high speed train rails (not one of the slowest as proposed in CA), and should have the technical capability now that the imagination part is done

This means that the US better acts fast, if we want to be the first.

wcalvin | August 12, 2013

Agree with Cindy. China could act faster on this.

I found the 57pp to be full of good workup. It would have been nice to have seen more on failure modes but what they did handle seemed reasonable.

ENGINEER | August 12, 2013

I absolutely love it. I think Jerry Brown would be an idiot to continue with the High-Speed Rail idea. If the Hyper-loop isn't put into motion within the next 6 years, it's something I will be excited to try and help out with. This is Mechanical and Structural Engineering at its finest! Hopefully within a year of college I'll be able to further comprehend the 57 pages I just skimmed through, but I'm stoked.

I signed the online petition, but seeing how we haven't gotten a response on Tesla Motors yet I doubt that we can depend on the federal government for pushing this through. I say as California residents (or for those here who live in Cali at least) must work together to put this onto the next Proposition ballet, or fully inform our state's governor on this innovative and nonexpensive idea.

Andrzej1 | August 12, 2013


I'm pretty sure you could adapt the design to work underwater in the form of a submerged floating tube. Clearly a more traditional design would be used for power distribution as in a power cable since solar power would no longer work. Much like in the ET3 vactrain, you would also have to place escape hatches connected to escape capsules every mile or so raising the cost significantly.

Andrzej1 | August 12, 2013


Your right about China! There is quite a bit of interest there over the ET3 vactrain. Given that the Hyperloop is much cheaper then the ET3 design, at least in principle, you would figure the Chinese would be all over this.

Timo | August 12, 2013

I'm getting "the file is damaged and can't be repaired" for the pdf. Does anybody else have same problem?

TimC | August 12, 2013

Thanks to Elon Musk and his team for giving us something else to dream about. After reading it, I had the same thought that the Chinese might be the first to develop it and would do so between Bejing and Shanghai.

I'm not sure that it's affordable, but Hawaii is another candidate where it could potentially be applied for an interisland transportation system.

Timo | August 12, 2013

Got it from SpaceX site. Oddly it is fraction of the size of the file that is offered here: 3.7MB vs 18.1MB

Timo | August 12, 2013

Reading the pdf, only concern I have in mind is passenger comfort. Those renderings surely didn't look comfort. What about children or basketball players? I'm not sure I would use this even if I could cut my traveling time to 1/10 of what it is now.

RocktoberSky | August 12, 2013

This is really interesting. The main problem I see is that it is too interesting: too complicated & too much to go wrong. (But more for an engineer to love!) But, since this is to be open-source, here are my initial thoughts.

One major omission in my mind: how will the switch-yard work for diverting the cars to different routes? I can't imagine how that could be done at speed.

What happens in the event of a crash? Is there enough time to stop the next pod from slamming into the debris / air influx / large-amplitude vibrations in the tube from the wrecked one, given a reasonable detection/signaling delay and maximum g-force?

Why the complicated system with steam for energy recovery from cooling the air? (For that matter, why cool the air & store it? Hot air is less viscous, so it would make a better air bearing. This would tend to increase the leakage rate, but that may be offset by the lower density...)

The tolerances for the walls are going to be very high, if the air pad clearance is 0.5-1.3 mm. Can this sort of tolerance really be maintained for hundreds of miles of track? One single loose screw could jam a float pad and potentially wreck the entire car.

Timo | August 13, 2013

The tolerances for the walls are going to be very high, if the air pad clearance is 0.5-1.3 mm. Can this sort of tolerance really be maintained for hundreds of miles of track? One single loose screw could jam a float pad and potentially wreck the entire car.

Forget about lose screws, thermal expansion in solid tube can do much worse than 0.5 - 1.3 mm change in diameter. And wreck all kinds of other havoc if not somehow managed.

Timo | August 13, 2013

From PDF: These [pylons] would absorb the small length changes between pylons due to thermal changes

Problem is that effect is cumulative, one mm change between two pylons is two mm change between three. In 300 mile stretch of solid tube it can cumulate a lot of expansion/contraction.

ENGINEER | August 13, 2013

@RocktoberSky I imagine for a switch-yard possibility, instead of the track breaking off to the left or right, the track would split at the bottom.

As soon as a pod passes by before a pod designated to take the detour or stop, the floor of the tube for about a half mile would lower to a tube beneath the main line. This tube would lead to either a new route or a station that would allow a passage back onto the main track. The pod would have to decelerate before the drop, and the floor would have to move back up for the next pods passing by, but it seems like the least invasive means for a track split or station interval. I would consider there to be few branches and stations on the way though, since it could lengthen the amount of time for going straight to SF from LA.

And the possibility of a crash? If there exists even the SLIGHTEST chance for an accident, even .0001%, NO ONE will EVER ride it! Sure, people die in car crashes every day, and trains have been derailing more than Ayn Rand could imagine, but this is a 670 MILE AN HOUR transporter we are talking about here. By the looks of it, there aren't even windows for passengers, which could add to the anxiety factor. Forget trains and airplanes - the Hyper-loop has to be safer than a roller coaster, considering that roller coasters are safe, but that if people FEEL that they will be at risk riding it, they won't.

In fact, just consider the anxiety factor. If all the safety issues are tackled to the extreme, all should be good.

J.T. | August 13, 2013

the Hyper-loop has to be safer than a roller coaster, considering that roller coasters are safe, but that if people FEEL that they will be at risk riding it, they won't.

Excellent point about roller coasters.
The fact is much of the thrill of a coaster is that people don't feel safe. So, start it in Anaheim and end it in Vallejo.

Disney and Six Flags can sponsor it.

JAFIC | August 13, 2013

If China really does this, I will be afraid to use it.

There are often reports of how construction crew cut corners (usually safety) to do it.

Source :

Not to say that China does shoddy work but man...these are not something cooked up by me.

Cindy I II III | August 13, 2013

Yes, lack of safety considerations and poor construction have been big issues in China. Hope now provides an opportunity to turn the corner. The country is trying to change its export economy to more consumption economy, to move more people from the countryside to the cities as growth driver, to elevate from manufacturers of commodity goods to competitors of cutting-edge technology, to diverge from path of environmental ruins to responsible/sustainable economic growth. Hyperloop simply fits too beautifully into the strategies to ignore.

Now I'm imagining Elon being a consultant to such project in China, in exchange, the government will help removing all obstacles for Tesla mainland entry plus tax incentives and exposures in the government controlled media...even further, government owned auto makers can sign contract with Tesla for power train deals...

In one of his interviews re rockets, Elon saw China as the only viable future competitor against SpaceX before re-usable rockets are in place. He can use hyperloop to keep his enemy closer :-)

Undiscovered | August 13, 2013

Three Questions: One where will the materials come from for this type of project, as in can they be sources locally? Two, will the magnetism not cause problems in the human body? Three, what will the effects of this be on the environment, Including radiation from the magnets?

evpro | August 13, 2013

The PDF is a pleasure to read. Mr Musk is a visionary (again).

What strikes me is the operational economy and the advantages of a more uniform passenger flow instead of having hundreds of people all trying to load or unload at once.

Consider too the diminished (to zero) need for aisles, restrooms, food carts, drink service or stewardesses. Its a half hour trip - no need for anything except wifi at your seat. Also no restocking, refueling, deicing, taxiing, weather or traffic delays.

There are a lot of pylons involved but the overall land use is far less than a freeway or even a rail line.

TeslaRocks | August 13, 2013

@frmercado and procarl

So what if "resources and work hours from both Tesla and Space X were used to accomplish this study"? Spread over 9 months since the start of the first draft and over a year since Elon's first public announcement (he could have been thinking about it privately/secretely for years before that), I doubt this could have had a significant impact on any current projects of activities, other than perhaps stimulate a brilliant set of minds and keep them from getting drowsy. It seems it was mostly done on "spare time". Besides, for once a billionnaire and two corporations put in some thought for the public good, so this is a rare event but a great one and should be encouraged. The "business as usual" conventional wisdom is what caused us to still be using fossil fuels in 2013; any credible attempt to change this perverse order of things should be applauded. Bravo, Elon and friends.


Actually, maybe the Chinese feel like they wasted a lot of money on those high speed trains. My parents rode some in China and they said there was a huge sonic boom every time speeding trains meet/pass by each other.

wcalvin | August 13, 2013

Switching left or right can be done with puffs of air.

The electromagnets are not around the tube, just a linear version of Tesla's 1882 AC induction motor design principle. Think skates on a air cushion in a groove.

Most people have already accustomed themselves to traveling at 600mph in a cylinder without looking outside (I am usually the only passenger looking out the window during in-flight movies).

Timo | August 13, 2013

@Undiscovered, what radiation from magnets? If you mean EMF then answer is zero impact on anything. You get higher exposure from magnets in your fridge door whenever you open it.

PorfirioR | August 13, 2013

- My guess is that there will be no switching of the pods while in transit. The cooling system, air reserves, and battery seemed to be planned to sustain the pods for 45 minutes. The paper indicates that, at that interval, the battery, water, and steam reserves would be refreshed.

- I believe cooling is necessary because the compressed air would be heated at the 20:1 compression ratio mentioned in the paper, and storing the steam is necessary in order to preserve the environment in the tube.

- I believe that the tolerances mentioned for the air bearing pads are only for the near-wall sections of the pod (I am assuming bottom and some lateral). The paper mentions that there needs to be enough cross-section clearance for the tube not to act like a syringe with the pod in it.

- The fact that this is tube travel (and that there is no vacuum) is what makes it inherently safer than even a train. Unless something catastrophic happens to the tube, there should be no crash (kinetically speaking - i.e. hitting something). A mechanical failure of the levitation or propulsion system need not result in destructively rapid deceleration. The paper did mention the possibility of wheeled "landings" as a safety measure once the pod slows down enough.

- The pods are supposed to be spaced about 5 miles apart while traveling. That distance would be covered in 20-30 seconds at cruising speed, which is plenty of time to stop comfortably to avoid a collision with a stuck pod, if necessary. Remember, the pods are expected to stop when you get to your destination ;-), so they would be designed to know how to stop. I am guessing that, in case of a jam, pods that are fully mission capable would execute a controlled stop at a strategic point in the tube where a coordinated restart can take place.

I should read the paper again a few times, but there are still a few things that I am wondering about:
- Like I mentioned above, the ability to recover from a stop in the tube. Then again, the loop has to start some time, so it could be the same as a loop start.
- The effects on the air bearings at very high speeds. Are they effective? Are they needed? Can the pod create enough lift on its own?
- Instead of storing the steam, can it be recycled and/or used to generate electricity? I am not the smartest person in these systems but it sounds like there will be some thermal expansion from the compressed air usage that can serve to cool the steam back into the pod's water supply.

Lastly, this is starting to feel eerily similar to the plot of the movie Contact. Perhaps Hadden...I mean... Elon would talk the government of another country into building a hyperloop, expecting that we in the US would fail miserably due to politics. As Hadden would say: "why build one when you can build two for twice the price?" How about the Kuwait to Riyadh to Abu Dhabi hyperloop? Money would not be an impediment.

Timo | August 13, 2013

23 miles apart says the PDF (page 10). At 760mph that takes a bit under two minutes. Also it would require catastrophic failure in the tube itself to not let second pod any extra time to react due kinetics of the first one.

Elon clearly has thought of effective transport method from dome to dome in Mars to get this idea....I get images from Babylon 5 in my mind.

Andrzej1 | August 13, 2013


The spacing would be 30 seconds between capsules at peak travel times. The mechanical breaking would have to be quite extraordinary to bring the capsule to a halt with a spacing of only 30 seconds to the next capsule.

One of the problems with the design that I haven't seen mentioned is its vulnerability to small arms fire. There are some .50 calibre cartridges that could easily penetrate the tube wall and for those rounds that didn't, could leave significant protuberances that would be totally deadly for a capsule travelling within half a millimetre of the wall at 340m/s.