News Column

What's a Hyperloop? Elon Musk Explains

Aug 15, 2013
Elon Musk

Elon Musk imagines a future where passengers and cargo hurtle in pods through 900-mile-long tubes like "a ride on Space Mountain at Disneyland," as he tells Bloomberg Businessweek.

The billionaire inventor on Monday unveiled the Hyperloop, his vision for intercity high-speed transportation, mostly to tweak the backers of California's proposed $70 billion high-speed rail system.

Musk's solar-powered system would use magnetic motors to propel a capsule, suspended on a cushion of air, through low-pressure steel tubes at more than 700 mph. Musk says his system would never crash and could travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco -- a five-and-a-half hour trip by car -- in half an hour.

And unlike trains, a pod could leave as frequently as every 30 seconds, meaning travelers could leave from one terminus for the other practically on demand.

The entire system could be built for $6 billion, Musk says, or $7.5 billion for a larger Hyperloop that could accommodate cars.

But imagining is all Musk is doing. He says he's too busy with is other ventures -- PayPal, electric car company Tesla Motors and spacecraft maker SpaceX -- to actually build the system. He's released the proposal as an open-source blueprint for others to pursue.

But Alex Werpin, senior editor at, notes that California-based SpaceX has filed to trademark Hyperloop:

Scoop: SpaceX has filed trademark application for "Hyperloop." "Transportation of passengers and goods in tubes"

-- Alex Weprin (@alexweprin) August 12, 2013

Of course, Musk realizes all of this is just a parlor trick compared to what we're all waiting for: "real teleportation, which would of course be awesome," he writes, adding, "someone please do this."

Source: (c)2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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