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Elon Musk’s Super-Fast Sustainable Transport Concept: ‘Hyperloop’

Elon Musk

As if being a founder of PayPal, all-electric car company Tesla Motors, and space exploration company SpaceX, not to mention chair of solar services company SolarCity, wasn’t enough for one entrepreneurial lifetime; now, Elon Musk has revealed he has an idea for a new super-fast, sustainable transport system he’s calling “Hyperloop”.

In an hour-long, wide-ranging interview with Sarah Lacy from PandoMonthly, Musk revealed that he would like to develop a “fifth mode of transportation” in the world. We already have trains, autos, planes, and boats (ahem, and spacecraft). Musk says his idea for the new transport system could conceivably deliver you the distance from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes.

Sarah asked if his idea is “like a jetsons tunnel, you just get in and it whisks you away?”. Musk said that is thinking in the right direction, but it’s not quite that. I see that after the interview Musk tweeted, “Not a vac tunnel btw.” Additionally, the tweet mentioned that he “Will publish something on the Hyperloop in about four weeks. Will forgo patents on the idea and just open source it.” In the interview with Lacy he said he was tossing up whether to patent the idea first, or just open source it to help make it happen.

He believes the idea is totally possible. If it were just about anyone else besides Musk, I think most people might  say, “He’s crazy. This is impossible. It’ll never happen”. However, given Musk’s track record so far in making the seemingly impossible a reality, it might pay to take this guy’s idea pretty seriously.

The so-called Hyperloop system does sound almost too good to be true. When explaining the concept, Musk also said,

“The system I have in mind, how would you like something that can never crash, is immune to weather, it goes 3 or 4 times faster than the bullet train…it goes an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do? You would go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes. It would cost you much less than an air ticket, less than any other most of transport. I think we could actually make it self-powering if you put solar panels on it, you generate more power than you would consume in the system. There are ways to store power so it would run 24/7 without using batteries. Yes, this is possible, absolutely”

We can’t wait to see more details about this Hyperloop concept. The only question is: how could Elon Musk have enough time to be the CEO of SpaceX , Tesla Motors, and Hyperloop all at the same time? Cloning, perhaps?

via pandodaily
Image: snapshot from video

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  • http://twitter.com/IanKath Ian Kath

    This man is turning out to be a blend of Tesla and Edison. He has the intelligence to come up with the ideas and the presentation to make us take notice. I think he’s proved that everything he does is worth taking watching.

    I wonder if he has a secret lab developing cold fusion as we speak… Don’t laugh!

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Yes. Silly that people were saying there are no visionary US entrepreneurs coming through, after Steve Jobs departed. Look no further. And funnily enough, he did mention he’s interested is fusion in the interview!

  • Joseph montana

    Good interview but your server performance is dreadful. I gave up after watching for 10 minutes of choppy video.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Hi, our server performance shouldn’t matter for an embedded YouTube video I don’t think, as it’s using YouTuber servers.

  • Peartree

    Agreed, John,

    I just need to add my two cents worth in the MUSK/JOBS comparison.


    PROS: zen-like seeker of user-friendly design simplifications.- A stubborn and feared leader of creative skilled men.- Ambition to be the first one out of the starting gate with any new idea out there, taking the credit for it. – In this way becoming a guru generating hordes of loyal followers

    CONS: no college education and unable to rid himself of lifelong and very costly obsessions (suppressing stuff: 2nd mouse-button,open system, floppy drive,true multi-tasking, more recently large phones and small tablets, Flash etc..also year after year of machined alumium, slow and costly, twice to unsuccessfully replace fan cooling) – Replacing true innovation as that of the recently deceased Engelbart by shallow design patents –

    CHARACTER: Letting people think that he invented the PC, the mouse etc..Dubious honesty and disclosure – His very first project was a device to steal long distance fare from big carriers, the Blue Box. His narcissim was a plus for narcissitic followers who identified, a shallower crowd of customers.


    PROS:A seeker of engineering design simplifications.relying on a deep understanding of physics- A stubborn and respected leader of creative skilled and educated men.- Ambition to solve problems for humankind through the Internet, Space and Green tech – In this way he is becoming a leader generating hordes of similarly minded people. This man had a program and then got a business degree and later a degree in physics. After WHAT TO DO , he did HOW TO DO and HOW TO SOLVE

    CONS: His projects are so ambitious that his private life took a beating along with his sleep schedule. Yet he maintains that there are much better learning techniques and roads to success that a series of failures, a common axion. – So out of the mainstream mediocrity, he was not always well understood or trusted at first. Born from a Canadian mother and raised in South Africa, he was a bit slow to adapt to the ways of the Land of Al Capone, a country where AMERICAN GREED in by some considered a good entertainment TV Show.

    CHARACTER: Sterling honesty. The kid’s first project at age 12 was a video game he sold for $500. (On that topic, Bill Gates first gig was a letter to hackers to tell them not to steal software). Musk is trusted by people of character who recognize in him the clarity and the intelligent honesty that they share. People who cheat with him are unmercifully sued and exposed.

    In my book, being someone who one day walked out of the Apple walled garden and rubbed his eyes, this comparison is a no-brainer.
    Many of the smarter more ambitious customers grow out of Apple – Like most of us, I have in me some of Jobs’s narcissism and some of Musk’s integrity. Happily, the older and wiser I get, the more I slide towards MUSK, a model to look up to.