Elon Musk's Hyperloop: Shit's getting real-ish


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I don’t think the Hyperloop will ever be carrying people. I think it would be a fantastic alternative to freight trains and air freight. Build an underwater version across the ocean to China and it could change everything.


It’s five years away, and will be for decades.


Why not humans?

How about Micronauts?


It will be interesting to see how this holds up against flying cars, which as I understand it, are also five years away.




From National Geographic: “Imagine a half-hour commute from your job in New York City to an affordable home in a bucolic town more than 100 miles away”

Not to be a debbie downer, but if this ever came to be, the bucolic town 100 miles away from NYC wouldn’t stay bucolic for long, and the homes in it wouldn’t stay affordable very long either. I see this being better as a city-to-city network – which doesn’t quite introduce the same issue.


Last I checked, I-5 does not go to San Francisco.


Wait, I thought this was going to be in Texas because of “taxes”.


Well, you know, Modesto, which is in the East Bay, which is all basically San Francisco, says every journalist and TV person ever.

If it’s 5 years a way for “decades” (2) it’ll still be done before the “supertrain”.


It’s about making … the economics work, which is the biggest challenge…The magnets are very expensive.”

Yes, as are the unavoidable land-acquisition and earthworks costs when you’re confined to almost dead straight lines. This is a big reason railroads tend to be more expensive than roads, and why bullet trains tend to be more expensive than slower trains. The straighter the path needs to be, the less obstacles you can avoid.

He says the Hyperloop is different from bullet trains that run on magnetic levitation, or maglev, because its pods or capsules travel inside tubes elevated by pylons that are 17 to 20 feet above ground.

Oh it’s elevated! That’s something that’s impossible to do with trains right?

Ahlborn says Hyperloop is cheaper than rail, because using pylons that run parallel to existing highways obviates the need for train tracks and reduces land acquisition costs.

Everyone knows trains can’t be located adjacent to highways!

Seriously, the technology may be feasible, but to claim it will somehow be cheaper than train technology is complete fantasy. Not only is the technology completely untested in the real world, but it also, even on paper, suffers most of the same problems of maglev rail. Not only does the track have to be almost dead straight, but as Ahlborn admits, the magnetic technology is very expensive. I also fail to see how a vacuum tube large enough to fit a vehicle inside, complete with solar panels on top will be somehow cheaper than steel rails.


It’s almost as though no one on the design team has ever been to Chicago where the trains are elevated and/or are plopped in the middle of highways.


I must admit I was rather disappointed to find that the Hyperloop wasn’t a freaking Star Gate.


Same with self-driving cars: “Hey, you know how much too much traffic pisses you off? We’re going to make traffic much cheaper.”


If flying cars are five years away, then they must be five years past, because they have existed for decades.


Chicago’s El was built in a different era - 1890s - where centralized urban planning was possible, and civic works were well funded. Expensive, slow, but low-risk bets like infrastructure aren’t how VC’s do things, which makes me deeply skeptical of private projects operating at this scale. What VC institutional partner is going to accept a 30 year payback?


Oh man, I had one of those. (I had quite a few Micronauts, actually.) I remember the tubes weren’t quite as re-configurable as I would have liked, but it was an interesting evolution of the older race track toys from whence it came.


I had that! It never worked. Which probably explains some of my skepticism towards Hyperloop.

Yeah, that claim is actually funny, it’s so absurd. It’s more complex and demanding than a train in every way. Plus, because of the straight-lines requirement, the start/end points are far from the population centers (and, thus, other transit), so it only really works as a car shuttle, which further adds to expense.


I-5 also does not go through Modesto. 99 does, but 5 misses it by a good
number of miles. Stockton gets 5, the first city of consequence north of
the Grape Vine. Does the Bay want to claim Stockton? The rest of us in
the nice parts of the central valley (Read: Sacramento and points north)
will be glad to cede Stockton to the Bay if you want it.


This isn’t rocket science, and Elon Musk actually has than in a serious way.
Personally, I thought a powered spacecraft landing was a stupid idea, but was amazed that they have almost succeeded landing it on a freaking barge, twice.

They’ll get the technical part no problem and in the timeline, the issue would be if they can make it commercially viable.