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Transport may go 'hyper'

Updated: 2013-08-14 08:04
( China Daily)

A design for a super-fast transport system dubbed "Hyperloop" - carrying passengers in pressurized tubes at near-supersonic speeds - was unveiled on Monday by inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Transport may go 'hyper'

A sketch of billionaire Elon Musk's proposed "Hyperloop" transport system is shown in this publicity image. The Hyperloop will be solar powered and move passengers and even automobiles at speeds of up to 1,220 km per hour, according to the design plan. Tesla Motors via Reuters

Musk, who heads electric carmaker Tesla Motors and private space exploration firm SpaceX, released a 57-page document describing the project, which he claims could connect Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes.

Musk said in a conference call this will be a new form of transport, different from traditional rail travel, and will carry passengers and goods in pods in a contained system elevated on pylons.

Transport may go 'hyper'

"This is designed to be super light, and trains are amazingly heavy," he said. "This is designed more like an aircraft."

The system is capable of speeds reaching 1,220 kilometers an hour, or Mach 0.91, according to Musk's document.

The technical paper said Hyperloop consists of a low- pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. The capsules are supported on a cushion of air, featuring pressurized air and aerodynamic lift, it said.

Musk said last week he was merely publicizing the open- source design and has no plans to build the system, but on Monday it appeared he is having second thoughts.

"I'm tempted to make at least a demonstration prototype," he said. "I'm not trying to make a ton of money on this, but I would like to see it come to fruition and I think it would help if I did a demonstration."

Leading up to the unveiling, carried out on the SpaceX website, online speculation was feverish.

Musk has been dropping hints about his system for more than a year during public events, mentioning that it could never crash and would be immune to weather.

During a Tesla earnings call on Thursday, he said he is too focused on other projects to consider building the Hyperloop.

"I think I kind of shot myself by ever mentioning the Hyperloop," he said. "I don't have any plans to execute, because I must remain focused on SpaceX and Tesla."

He said he will fulfill his commitment to publishing an open-source design, meaning anyone can use it and modify it.

Musk said he and a small team from his two firms came up with the design, drawing on some technology from each.

It calls for some version of the electric motors used in the Tesla S automobile, creating an electromagnetic field to propel the pod.

"It essentially sends a pulse and the tube ends up chasing the pulse," he said.


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