Have you ever wished for a quicker way of getting from city to city than the old-fashioned highway? Faster, simpler travel is a dream for many, and the idea of a supersonic air-cushioned Hyper Loop may be a little beyond our imaginations, but this futuristic invention has recently been unveiled as a potential transport system for California. Who is behind this strange idea, why is it coming to California and what does a “hyper loop” even mean?
What is the Hyper Loop and why is California the lucky recipient?
The basic principle of this concept, if you can call it basic, is to use a transportation tube containing magnets and fans to propel passengers, via capsules, along the network at supersonic speeds. The hope is that this solar-powered system will be able to carry cars and people, who will enjoy an experience that has been likened to a roller coaster. At the moment it sounds like some sort of ridiculous sci-fi creation but it actually aims to provide a safer, more efficient form of travel.
The proposed system is currently designed as a link between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which would apparently take just 30 minutes, and this route has been chosen a much for the distance as its significance. At 380 miles apart, these cities are at the ideal distance from each other for a tube system such as this to be viable and appealing over other forms of travel. The elevated tube would run alongside the existing highway – partly due to land rights issues and possibly to show the drivers what they are missing – and the ticket price is said to be a remarkably cheap $20.
Who is the brains behind this Hyper Loop and when can Californian passengers expect their first ride?
The system has been designed by Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, and it appears to be little more than a side project and a hobby where he has been throwing around ideas, concepts and sketches to come up with fantastical alternatives to the high speed train that is being developed. The problem with this unofficial doodling is that there is no real desire to make the loop a reality any time soon; in fact, Musk has even expressed some regret at letting the cat out of the bag so soon because he is currently too focused on his SpaceX work to commit to this extraordinary project. Musk has made a point of saying “if the Hyperloop is ever built”, although a prototype could well be be with us in four years time, and we must not overlook the estimated cost of $6bn.
Will there ever be a Hyper Loop?
These obstacles and other commitments may be a set back for residents keen to travel by tube, but they do not mean that the project would not be brought to reality in the future. For now, it seems that commuters between LA and San Francisco may have to stick to traditional, non-supersonic transport and it may be best to wait until 2017 to see if Musk has finished his prototype and is still interested in building the Hyper Loop.
What do you think? Would this be a mode of transportation that you would take? Please let us know in the comments below.