In Which We Attempt To Explain The Hyperloop With A Minimum Of ‘Futurama’ Jokes

Yesterday, Elon Musk (PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX) released open source plans for a “Hyperloop” fast transit system which would be — much like the internet — a series of tubes. And yes, we did need to use a picture from Futurama as the header. Here’s a picture of the proposed Hyperloop.

The Hyperloop would shoot 28 passengers at a time through two low-pressure tubes between San Francisco and Los Angeles atop pylons on the unused medians of the I-5 freeway. He estimates the 350 mile (~560 km) trip would take about 30 minutes, with speeds topping out at 760 mph (~1,225 km/h).

The pods would each carry 28 passengers, departing every two minutes from either location (or every 30 seconds at peak times). So each pod would have about 23 miles between one another while traversing the tube. The transport capacity would therefore be about 840 passengers per hour. The passenger capsules would be 4.43 feet at their widest point, and 6.11 feet at their tallest. They would each weigh about 7,700 pounds and cost $275,000 to make. [Ars Technica]

The theoretical capsules could be propelled by linear induction motors spaced in the tubes. And how will they create the stator and rotor for these capsules? Miracles. (Well, actually magnets, AKA Juggalo miracles).

Musk also figures the Hyperloop could be covered in solar arrays generating 52MW, only 6MW of which the Hyperloop needs to operate. I think we should use the other 46MW to cover the Hyperloop with purple underlights and speakers blaring Skynyrd, just to let everybody know we mean business.


Musk estimates the cost to be $6 billion altogether for 40 passenger capsules and the tubes, or $7.5 billion for a larger Hyperloop with 20 additional “cargo capsule” tubes for transporting cars as well. Oh man, I would totally sit behind the steering wheel and pretend to drive the whole time, while making sound effects.

For more on the Hyperloop, check out Tesla Motors’ 56-page PDF document or Ars Technica’s summary of it.

Pictures courtesy 20th Century Fox and Tesla Motors.