What is Musk’s Hyperloop?
Last Monday Elon Musk, a billionaire, entrepreneur, and the co-funder of such companies as Paypal, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity, revealed his new plan for the Hyperloop. The basic idea involves having small capsules, holding about 28 passengers each, travel through enclosed tubes at nearly the speed of sound. They would be propelled by a linear induction motor and ride on pockets of air in a low-pressure air system.
The lack of friction would result in incredibly fast travel, with a ride from from Los Angeles to San Francisco taking a mere 35 minutes to complete. This is 5 times faster than the current system of rails. Musk believes that the cost would be about $6 billion, which would be a mere tenth of the cost of this current rail system.
Creation of the Model
CEO of WhiteClouds Jerry Ropelato challenged a team of five designers to create a miniature of Elon Musk’s proposed futuristic Hyperloop system. The 3D-printing company went to work and created the model in less than 24 hours. Small enough to sit on a desk, the model was created with three different 3D-printers – a Connex 500 printer, a ProJet 3500 HDMax, and a ZPrinter650. After all the parts were made, the team worked to assemble them and create the finished product. “This really demonstrates the possibilities 3D printing offers,” Ropelato stated.
Criticisms of Hyperloop
However, not everyone is convinced that the Hyperloop is feasible. Physics professor at UC Berkeley, Richard Muller, has stated that Musk ought to have made a prototype before laying out his proposal. He believes that this could result in complications regarding the safety of the system as well as the energy it would require.
Others are concerned about the fact that Musk has not factored in development costs, and worry that this will be something which is later regretted.
Says professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT John Hansman, “The high-level concept doesn’t violate any fundamental laws of physics…[but] I’m not sure whether the details work.”