Hyperloop or Hyperloopy?

Engineers look at Elon Musk's new transportation concept: Hyperloop

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla cars and SpaceX, seems like a respectable engineer and one who can get things done. So what do you think of his new mass-transit concept, Hyperloop? It’s sort of a cross between a pneumatic tube (carrying 30+ passengers), a scaled-up air-hockey game, and a rail gun that shoots the tube at up to 700 mph. He even envisions putting solar panels on top of the tubes that would generate more than enough electrify to power the device. And for one going from San Francisco to L.A., he estimates a price tag of $6 billion, with people paying a fare of only $20 (own-way).

I give him credit for putting the idea forth, though it is not totally original. ET3 talks about a similar idea on its website. But I get the feeling his Hyperloop idea will have less of an impact on actual transportation than Dean Kamen’s Segway. I’ve actually seen some people moving around on them. But I can recall that before Segway was unveiled, it was touted as being an invention bigger than the Internet or PC that will revolutionize city planning and create an upheaval in several industries. It hasn’t, yet.

So give Musk’s proposition a look (full pdf here) and let us know what you think might work and what likely won’t work.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

ScottP (not verified)
on Aug 23, 2013

Maybe the reason Segway hasn't taken off is the owner of the company died when he was riding one and drove over a cliff. Just sayin'.

on Aug 23, 2013

The Segway was unveiled in 2001. Jimi Heselden bought the company that makes it in 2009 then died in 2010. If the Segway was going to take off and change the face of transportation, it would've done so by 2010. It was overhyped. Just replyin'.

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What's A Skeptical Engineer?

A questioning, sometimes humorous look at technologies, engineering, and the world.


Stephen Mraz

Steve serves as Senior Editor of Machine Design.  He has 23 years of service and has a B.S. Biomedical Engineering from CWRU. Steve was a E-2C Hawkeye Naval Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy. He...
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