In 2013, Elon Musk – the entrepreneur behind PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX – took an old idea from 19th century and re-imagined it.
The result? Hyperloop, a transportation system that might change the way we think of mobility, through vacuum technology.
Musk made his vision for this sustainable rapid transport system of the future publicly available, patent free.
He called on the best and the brightest to rally together to help him build it.
“When you are an entrepreneur it’s all about doing something that has an impact” explains Dirk Albhorn, creator of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which has taken up the mission of making Musk’s vision a reality, using a crowd sourcing of brains who contribute expertise for stock options.
The Hyperloop works by creating low pressure inside a tube.
This low pressure then allows a capsule full of people to travel from point to point at very high speeds - just like how an airplane can travel fast at high altitudes with very little energy.
A journey from Los Angeles to Las Vegas could take as little as 20 minutes, at a subsonic speed of 760 miles per hour. That’s faster than commercial aircraft, which generally cruise at about 550mph.
The whole system is powered by alternative energy, with the potential to produce more than it uses.
The focus for the first Hyperloop is in California, a state rife with tech exes and Silicon Valley billionaires who can see the technology’s potential.
The testing ground is Quay Valley, described as a model town for the 21st century, an eco-city development set to absorb California’s growing population.
Leading the design team with HTT is Craig Hodgetts, a renowned architect and UCLA professor: “One of the things that’s in my DNA is automotive design and that is why I am so involved in the Hyperloop”.
The mechanisms for frictionless travel are handled by the masters of vacuum tech, Oerlikon, who created the zero pressure environment for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
However, the major barrier might not be technical.
“How are we going to make sure that people are actually willing to get into a pod and travel at 760 mph?” asks Andrew Liu, New Ventures VP for AECOM, who are designing Hyperloop’s pylons and infrastructure. “From that aspect I think a lot of that is education future consumer,” Liu adds.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies believe that they could begin construction as soon as 2016, while the first passenger service might come as early as 2019.
Watch the video above to find out more