Graphic via Gizmodo, via Brent Couchman, via John Gardi.
Post-modern transport is stuck in a rut. From car to commercial air travel was a quantum leap, but now we just have hybrid cars and bigger jets. These are incremental gains, which don’t even feel like it cause you’re still stuck in traffic or getting your crotch groped en route to sitting in a chair for hours. Nothings changed the game and it’s like we’ve stopped even thinking about it. However, in 1972 the Rand Corporation envisioned a vacuum tunnel system that would get you from New York to LA (2,500 km) in around 21 minutes. At potential speeds of up to 14,000 MPH. That never happened, but Tesla/PayPal genius Elon Musk is announcing a similar plan for half hour travel between San Fran and LA (381 miles).
It’s called a hyperloop. Basically you suspend a train on magnets (MagLev), put it in a tube and suck out as much air as possible – making travel nearly frictionless. Then you pump the train (actually little pods, holding a few people) through as fast as possible, like those pneumatic document delivery tubes. Except with people.
Right now people are still guessing as to what form Musk’s idea would take, like the ideas from engineer John Gardi, shown in the diagram above. Still, very interesting stuff. I’m basically just summarizing what I read on Gizmodo, so you can read more there.
The alternative is a $68 billion dollar conventional high speed rail line between those two cities, and this new system is supposedly cheaper and faster. Most importantly, it’s new, and we desperately need new ways of thinking about transport.