Watch Out, Trucks And Rail: Hyperloop Is On The Horizon
Elon Musk is known for his ambitious projects like Tesla and SpaceX, but one of his less-publicized ideas could ultimately prove to be one of the best and most revolutionary, especially for the transportation and logistics industry.
Musk’s Hyperloop technology entails building a tube either underground or above the ground in which capsules could be propelled at low pressure using acceleration provided by magnets in order to move cargo. Placing the load on a cushion of air could help boost speed while reducing friction and drag.
This could allow for speeds of as much as 750 miles per hour, which is just shy of the speed of sound. In theory, it could apply to routes anywhere from 40 to 10,000 kilometers long.
Musk has his hands full with other projects at the moment, but he is supporting others in pursuing this dream. Los Angeles’s Hyperloop One just completed its first big land test of this technology outside of Las Vegas, where it accelerated a sled on a short track at a speed faster than 100 miles per hour. A second test later this year will use a pod.
Two Major Hyperloop Projects Planned
The firm’s first project will be a cargo route that spans the 228 miles between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. They have raised more than $80 million in funding, and CEO Rob Lloyd predicts that Hyperloops will be used for shipping cargo within three years and passengers in five years.
Rivals Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, meanwhile, have signed an agreement with the government of Slovakia to build a Hyperloop that connects Slovakia to Hungary and Austria.
While questions surround the cost and safety of implementing Hyperloop systems on a massive scale, some experts believe that it could eventually replace rail transport for moving cargo. It has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of rail and trucks, and it would be unaffected by weather, so it will be interesting to see if these efforts are successful.