FAST LANE

De­sign for su­per-fast trans­port sys­tem un­veiled

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES in San Fran­cisco

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.

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 told 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.

“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 low­pres­sure 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 open­source 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.

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

ELON MUSK CEO AND CHIEF DE­SIGNER OF SPACEX AND CHAIR­MAN OF TESLA MO­TORS

TESLA MO­TORS VIA REUTERS

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.

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