Tag Archives: Hyperloop

Chicago South Hyperloop (No. 003) Is Hyperloop the future of travel?

Photo: The 30-strong team from MIT hope to test this design in August

There was a moment, an hour before an event last week, when 30 or so young fresh-faced people stood around their creation and posed for a group photo.

They were in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. All around them, reminders of historic innovations that began with research at this legendary college.

As the photographer clicked away, I wondered – what place in history would this photograph have? Will we look back at these 30 smiles and say, “That was the team that changed the world!”?

If that is to be the case, there is a long road ahead. And indeed, it is long roads that are the motivation for this project. The MIT team is one of several working on Hyperloop, a vision for rapid travel put forth by Silicon Valley’s most interesting man, Elon Musk.

He says the commute from San Francisco to Los Angeles – currently a five-hour drive or an hour of flying – could be cut to 30 minutes.


What is Hyperloop?

Hyperloop is a conceptual transport system in which passengers are loaded into pods and fired through vacuum tubes at more than 600mph (1,000km/h).

Prototype pods have been tested running along magnetic tracks, much like the maglev trains used in countries such as Japan today.

Pumping the air out of the tubes reduces resistance, allowing high speeds to be achieved, potentially using less energy than a train.

The idea could reduce journey times over long distances, but there are many challenges for the rival developers to overcome before any such project can become a reality.


Mr Musk is the boss of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, and when he published in 2013 a white paper outlining a way to use airtight tubes to propel pods at speeds of up to 700mph (1130km/h), he set a challenge to anyone and everyone who wanted to try and build the technology.

Mr Musk isn’t paying the firms, but he has committed to funding a series of tests. The hope is that these will happen in August this year. The target is that by 2021 humans will be travelling on Hyperloops around the world.

The MIT team is one of more than 20 non-commercial groups also designing a Hyperloop pod – with money coming from SpaceX in the form of a competition.

That was split over two phases – a design contest, which MIT won in January, and an on-track test coming up in the summer.

But it all could be a colossal waste of time. The barriers to Hyperloop becoming a reality are enormous – and it’s not just about technology.

Straight and narrow

Part of any visionary’s CV is the ability to ignore the naysayers and focus on your vision. If and when you succeed, everyone backtracks and says they knew you were a genius all along.

Elon Musk is the sort of chap that is used to people telling him he’s wrong. When he set out to make electric cars appeal to petrolheads, he had a lot of people to convince – but somehow, and on the brink of bankruptcy, he got some investors on board.

Yet an awful lot stands in Hyperloop’s way. Literally.

Christopher Merian, chief engineer on MIT’s effort, told me that the key problem with his pod – and the Hyperloop concept in general – is that it can’t handle corners.

So the Hyperloop tube would need to take a rather Roman approach, and go in an almost complete straight line from A to B.

If the proposed route of San Francisco to Los Angeles is to be realised, you’re looking at slicing through some of the most beautiful sights the natural world has to offer, not to mention acre after acre of land belonging to people who may not be too keen on a big fat tube being plonked outside their front door.

Philippe Kirschen, MIT’s team captain, told me he thinks this will lead to Hyperloop being built in a different part of the world with a less strenuous regulatory environment.

Indeed it’s hard to imagine anywhere in the US that would be suitable for Hyperloop, short of shelling out monstrous payouts and a free Tesla or two to people whose lives have been uprooted.

Super-rich commute

But let’s put that aside and, for the sake of argument, say an agreement has been made and a route between San Francisco and Los Angeles is built. It works, it’s safe and it’s pretty darn marvellous, all told.

Except it is really, really expensive.

Mr Musk says the cost of building the route would be in the region of $6bn (£4.1bn), an estimate most agree is extremely conservative.

Some are calling Hyperloop the new Concorde which, despite being a glorious piece of innovation, ultimately failed due to regulations – it wasn’t allowed to fly at supersonic speeds over land – and a lack of profitability.

A return ticket on Concorde would see you part with several thousand pounds or dollars. Which over time was not considered to be worthwhile trade to save a few hours.

How much will a ticket for Hyperloop cost?

MIT’s pod design – which they said can be scaled up – will likely be able to carry around 20 people at once.

Unless the Hyperloop system can handle a great number of pods leaving a station in very quick succession, tickets for those pods will need to be extremely high in order to make the system economically viable.

Furthermore, if Hyperloop runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it will be competing with the currently under-construction California High Speed Rail. The network – due to open in 2025 – promises a journey time of two hours and 40 minutes. Each train will be able to carry well over a thousand people. Tickets, surely, will be a lot cheaper than Hyperloop.

It would leave Hyperloop as an option only for the rich. Public support no doubt would evaporate.

Progress

I was something of a partypooper at MIT’s event, I’ll admit – putting all these points to the team on a night designed to celebrate their outstanding efforts thus far.

The math(s) not adding up was a concern, they said – but at the very least, the hope is that developing Hyperloop will create something, even if it’s not the transportation of the future.

There could be many industrial uses for an environmentally friendly Hyperloop-style system.

In 50 years, when we look back at the hopeful, expectant faces in that photograph, it seems unlikely that we’ll see them as the team that changed the way we travel.

But that’s not to say developing Hyperloop – a clean, perhaps revolutionary technology – won’t have been worth it.

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Chicago South Hyperloop (No. 002) Hyperloop History Begins

Spectators in the Nevada desert have witnessed the first public test of a Hyperloop test vehicle as it accelerated from zero to over 100 miles per hour in a few seconds before running out of track.

The vehicle, built by Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies), is intended to show off that the technology publicized by SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, is viable. The firm wants to build a system that could make the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in around 30 minutes.

The plan for “Hyperloop” involves using a variant of maglev technology to power the passenger and cargo capsules, but the entire system is enclosed in a steel tube that has been pumped out to produce a near vacuum. The reduced air pressure allows the vehicles to move at nearly the speed of sound while using very little propulsive power.

Today’s test didn’t use vacuum tubes, and instead was an open-air test to show the speed and propulsion system’s viability. The next stage will be to build a fully enclosed test track to iron out the engineering challenges in getting a full Hyperloop up and running.

All of the technology needed to make Hyperloop transport a reality exists, but it’s putting it all together in a working system that’s the tricky part. At today’s demonstration Hyperloop One said it had secured VC development funding and partnerships with firms including engineering conglomerate AECOM to investigate using the system for cargo transportation in Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

“AECOMs partnership with Hyperloop One has the potential to transform the movement of both people and freight,” said Mike Burke, AECOM’s chairman and CEO. “Our expertise working with cities, building port infrastructure and delivering highly challenging transit projects provides the depth of knowledge essential for safely and effectively developing and maximizing a new mode of transportation.”

Shifting cargo is going to be the first stage of Hyperloop One’s plans, but the firm also plans to start moving people on the system once the final details are worked out. It has entered into a feasibility study with FS Links for a pilot scheme linking cities in Sweden and Finland.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Hyperloop One to create entirely new possibilities for living and working on a Hyperloop-connected corridor,” said Mårten Fröjdö, CEO of FS Links. “The sheer speed of Hyperloop will provide the Nordic region and Scandinavia with a huge economic and employment boost.”

The elephant in the room among all the hype is, however, cost. Building a Hyperloop system is going to be very expensive – Musk’s estimate for the Los Angeles to San Francisco route comes in at $6bn, a little beyond VC funds and most private companies, making government help seem sensible.

The US is currently considering putting billions into high-speed rail links across the country, but rail is an old – if proven – technology. What Hyperlink One and its competitors want is a slice of that government money and it’s testing like this that could get it for them.

But beware the hype in Hyperloop. Over the coming months companies will be spouting lines about how soon this technology is coming, but there are still significant hurdles to be overcome before a viable business can be built.

 

Iain Thomson

 

 

Chicago South Hyperloop (No. 001)

Photo: Hyperloop Transport Technologies

The other morning I saw a fascinating news story. I immediately translated it into a project I was exploring to bring high speed rail travel between Louisville, Kentucky and Chicago, Illinois. Highlights of the story :

Imagine Paris to Marseille in just 40 minutes, or Paris to Rome in just over one hour. French rail chiefs believe it’s not just a pie in the sky idea.

Hyperloop One startup, intent on zipping people along at near-supersonic speeds in pressurized tubes, announced Tuesday that the French national rail company had joined its growing list of backers.

Hyperloop One said that it raised $80 million in fresh funding from an array of investors, including GE Ventures and France’s SNCF.

The overwhelming response we’ve had already confirms what we’ve always known, that Hyperloop One is at the forefront of a movement to solve one of the planet’s most pressing problems,” Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar said.

The brightest minds are coming together at the right time to eliminate the distances and borders that separate economies and cultures.”

 

With Hyperloop’s average speed of 603miles/hour or 970km/hour, imagine all the cities in France being within an hour’s travelling time from Paris. Paris to Marseille for example could take as little as 40 minutes – the time spent by many commuters on the Paris Metro each morning. A trip to Rome on the Hyperloop would also be little over an hour away and Berlin would be 55 minutes according to very, very early guesstimates.

Pishevar and Brogan BamBrogan founded Hyperloop One, originally named Hyperloop Technologies, in 2013 to make real Elon Musk’s well-researched vision of a lightning-fast transport system with the potential to transform how people live. Hyperloop One plans a demonstration in the desert outside Las Vegas to show what it has accomplished so far. BamBrogan also promised a “full-scaled, full-speed” demo by the end of the year.

Hyperloop One is so confident in the speed at which the project is moving that it announced a global challenge in which businesses, governments, citizens, academics and others can submit proposals for where the systems should be built. “Just like an Olympics bidding process, we want to understand the great ideas in the world and then extract the best one,” Hyperloop One chief executive Rob Lloyd said.

See more on this original announcement.

Now more on my involvement with high-speed rail and Louisville.

Working with JWH Financial Services LLC. I plan to respond to the US Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration who has issued an RFP to « Finance, design, operate, construct, maintain a high speed rail system ». Congressional laws require the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to “issue a request for proposals for projects for the financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a high-speed passenger rail system operating within a high-speed rail corridor.”

The “catch” is that no Federal funding will be available. BUT in the past year All Aboard Florida IS constructing a high-speed rail network in Florida WITHOUT US Government funding. This step will provide publicity, especially if “the Department of Transportation MAY establish commissions to further review and develop proposals.”

In the « suggested corridors » from the FRA RFP I find they are interested in a corridor from Chicago to Indianapolis then to Louisville and Cincinnati. Looking at a map, it makes sense, but do we have any expertise in Cincinnati area ?

So now we give birth to CHICAGO SOUTH HYPERLOOP !

Anybody building into Chicago will have a big problem in finding space. As a sensible alternative, We are suggesting that the new railroad start instead at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. It is already served by the “South Shore” railroad which has a great terminal in downtown Chicago. Gary Airport is receiving Federal funding from Dept. of Transportation and South Shore railroad is receiving State/local funding for expansion.

Yes, things are starting to move on this project. On May 11, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop dream takes a step towards reality with first public propulsion test.

Based on a suggestion by James W. Stokes, Jr., we are investigating locating the transit line between Gary, Indiana and Louisville, KY in the median strip on Interstate 65.

Give us YOUR suggestions and Ideas

Written by Ken Kinlock kenkinlock@gmail.com

Paris to Rome in one hour: France backs the Hyperloop

Photo: Hyperloop Transport Technologies

Imagine Paris to Marseille in just 40 minutes, or Paris to Rome in just over one hour. French rail chiefs believe it’s not just a pie in the sky idea.

Hyperloop One startup, intent on zipping people along at near-supersonic speeds in pressurized tubes, announced Tuesday that the French national rail company had joined its growing list of backers.

Hyperloop One said that it raised $80 million in fresh funding from an array of investors, including GE Ventures and France’s SNCF.

“The overwhelming response we’ve had already confirms what we’ve always known, that Hyperloop One is at the forefront of a movement to solve one of the planet’s most pressing problems,” Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar said.

“The brightest minds are coming together at the right time to eliminate the distances and borders that separate economies and cultures.”

While the idea of the Hyperloop replacing France’s already high-speed TGV services might seem a little too far-fetched at the moment, French rail chiefs clearly see some potential in the project.

So why not all ow us to dream a little.

With Hyperloop’s average speed of 970km/hour, imagine all the cities in France being within an hour’s travelling time from Paris. Paris to Marseille for example could take as little as 40 minutes – the time spent by many commuters on the Paris Metro each morning.

A trip to Rome on the Hyperloop would also be little over an hour away and Berlin would be 55 minutes according to very, very early guesstimates.

Pishevar and Brogan BamBrogan founded Hyperloop One, originally named Hyperloop Technologies, in 2013 to make real Elon Musk’s well-researched vision of a lightning-fast transport system with the potential to transform how people live.

Musk outlined his futuristic idea in a paper released in 2013, challenging innovators to bring the dream to life.

Hyperloop One, one of the startups that picked up the gauntlet Musk threw down, plans a demonstration Wednesday in the desert outside Las Vegas to show what it has accomplished so far.

BamBrogan also promised a “full-scaled, full-speed” demo by the end of the year.

“It’s not just a faster train; it is an absolute on-demand experience,” he said during a presentation here late Tuesday.

“It leaves when you get there and goes directly to your destination.”

He went on to playfully describe Hyperloop as having such a controlled environment that it would be “elevator smooth” as well as “pet friendly, kid friendly, grandma friendly.”

Hyperloop One is so confident in the speed at which the project is moving that it announced a global challenge in which businesses, governments, citizens, academics and others can submit proposals for where the systems should be built.

“Just like an Olympics bidding process, we want to understand the great ideas in the world and then extract the best one,” Hyperloop One chief executive Rob Lloyd said.

NOW WE ARE STARTING ON MY (PENNEY VANDERBILT) FAVORITE PROJECT: A rail connection between Chicago and Louisville, Kentucky

It would go through Indianapolis and may also serve Cincinnati. It might not go all the way into Chicago but instead start at the Gary, Indiana airport. Connection to Chicago would be over the South Shore Line