10 Things to Know About the New ‘Fifth Mode of Transportation,’ the Hyperloop

Elan Musk, co-founder of PayPal and co-founder and current CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, today released information on the Hyperloop. The Hyperloop is a project Elan has been teasing the world with for the last year.

SO, what is Hyperloop?

Fed up that the state of California is planning to build one of the most expensive per mile and slowest bullet trains, Elan took action and developed a new form of transportation. His answer to the $70 billion USD California bullet train project is the Hyperloop. He has dubbed this creation a so-called “fifth mode” of transportation “after planes, trains, cars and boats.”

In a nutshell, Elan’s invention is a solar-powered elevated transit system that travels around 700 MPH. Sounds like sci-fi, right? I agree. After scoping out his 57-page PDF of info on this idea, I discovered some fascinating tidbits about the Hyperloop.

  • The Hyperloop 1 of 11

    The Hyperloop has the internet buzzing. Is this how we will be traveling in the future? Check out these 10 fascinating tidbits about the Hyperloop.

  • Self-Powering 2 of 11

    Elan suggests with the help of solar panels, the Hyperloop would be able to be self-powering.

    The Hyperloop can generate far in excess of the energy needed to operate. This takes into account storing enough energy in battery packs to operate at night and for periods of extended cloudy weather. The energy could also be stored in the form of compressed air that then runs an electric fan in reverse to generate energy, as demonstrated by Lightsail.

    image source: tesla motors

  • San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes 3 of 11

    The 381 mile trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take 35 minutes in the Hyperloop with a cost of approximately $20 one-way. Driving, according to Google Maps would take 5 hours and 34 minutes.

    image source: google maps

  • 28 Passengers 4 of 11

    Each pod would carry 28 passengers and depart approximately every 2-minutes (possibly every 30-seconds during peak time.)

    image source: tesla motors

  • Passengers Plus Vehicle Capsules 5 of 11

    Elan proposes creating pods/capsules with the ability to carry up to 3 vehicles, in addition to passengers.

    image source: tesla motors

  • About the Tubes 6 of 11

    How are these space-age tubes created and what are they made from?

    The tube is made of steel. Two tubes will be welded together in a side by side configuration to allow the capsules to travel both directions.
    Pylons are placed every 100 ft (30 m)to support the tube.
    Solar arrays will cover the top of the tubes in order to provide power to the system
    image source: tesla motors
  • Proposed Route 7 of 11

    Elan proposes the above route for travel using the Hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  There would be a 15.2 mile tunnel built to optimize the route. The majority of the tubes would be built in the median of I-5.

    image source: tesla motors

  • Safety in Mind 8 of 11

    The design of the Hyperloop was built with safety in mind.

    Unlike other modes of transport, Hyperloop is a single system that incorporates the vehicle, propulsion system, energy management, timing, and route. Capsules travel in a carefully controlled and maintained tube environment. The system is immune to wind, ice, fog, and rain.

    The propulsion system is integrated into the tube and can only accelerate the capsule to speeds that are safe in each section. With human control error and unpredictable weather removed from the system, very few safety concerns remain.
    Some of the safety scenarios below are unique to the proposed system, but all should be considered relative to other forms of transportation. In many cases Hyperloop is intrinsically safer than airplanes, trains, or automobiles.


    image source: tesla motors

  • 840 Passengers an Hour 9 of 11

    The Hyperloop would be able to carry 840 passengers per hour.  Elan suspects with the low cost and no traffic that the demand would increase.


  • Cost 10 of 11

    Surely all of this fancy talk will cost a ton of money. But what is it in comparison to the California project that fueled Elan to create this?

    According to Elan's estimates, to build a passenger Hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco, it will cost $6 billion USD and $7.5 billion USD for the passenger plus vehicle version of Hyperloop. The bullet train that is slated to be build in California is set to cost $68 billion USD. The California high-speed rail is scheduled to be built and ready for travel in 2029.



  • Open Source Transportation Project 11 of 11

    While this maybe the invention of Elan Musk, he is wanting this to be a community project that helps contribute to the Hyperloop design process and take this from an idea to reality.

    Feedback is welcomed on these or any useful aspects of the Hyperloop design.

    E-mail feedback to or

While Elan’s specs have the tubes running from San Francisco to Los Angeles, other states should take notice (like you, Texas!). Imagine getting from one major city to another in a matter of minutes, all the while traveling in a capsule at a minimal price. Interested in reading more? Check out the full specs as to how this can be created, how it would work and the costs associated with it at Tesla Motors.

Sounds amazing, right? This is only an idea, but this could be the next thing in transportation. How we live and work and travel could all be changed by this invention, oh the possibilities …

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Molly blogs technologyparenting and geekery at Digital Mom Blog. Follow her on FacebookPinterest or Twitter.

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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