When he isn’t busy redefining the automobile industry, talking about technologies that will have the greatest impact on society in the future or launching rockets, Elon Musk is thinking of other ways to take humanity into the future. Known as the architect of the future, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX recently unveiled plans to develop a test track for a new transportation technology called the Hyperloop.
Why the focus on a new form of transportation? Well, transportation on its most basic level hasn’t evolved that much, as Musk explains: “We have planes, trains, automobiles and boats. What if there was a fifth mode?”
What is the Hyperloop?
The Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system. Passengers sit inside of pressurized pods housed within a tube as they ride on a cushion of air at speeds twice that of a standard airliner. It differs from a high-speed train in a few ways. One of the main differences is that the pods can be separated from the main vehicle. So think about it this way: With the Hyperloop, the whole system doesn’t have to stop to pick up passengers.
The system will run regardless of weather and is sustainably self-powering, thanks to an array of solar panels set to line the roof of the pods. Musk has estimated that it will take $6 to $10 billion to construct the Hyperloop from Sacramento to San Diego, a small budget when compared to the $67.6 billion expected to complete the California’s high-speed rail.
We have planes, trains, automobiles and boats. What if there was a fifth mode?
The concept for the Hyperloop largely came as a result of Musk’s disapproval of California’s own forthcoming high-speed rail system. He wants to know how the some of brightest minds in Silicon Valley designed a “bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world.”
Texas Test Track
Despite an already busy schedule, Musk has announced plans to construct the long-awaited Hyperloop test track in Texas.
This test track will serve as a proving ground for Hyperloop technology and will be open for use by companies and students who wish to test their pods and designs. Musk, however, will not directly oversee the Hyperloop as it comes to fruition, choosing instead to adopt an open-source business model, which he hopes will spur creativity and inspire improved designs.
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