Elon Musk is usually transparent with his industry-disrupting and world-changing ideas, but he’s got a secret up his sleeve. When asked about ideas for future projects at the Pando Daily Fireside Chat, he quickly rattled off three – an electric-powered jet, pre-constructed segments of highway, and fusion. After that, he paused, then introduced a fourth idea:
“Maybe I should patent it, and then offer to open source the patent to anyone that could make the credible case that they could actually do it.”
Musk’s face was glowing, like a kid that could barely contain his excitement. He shared the concept’s name – The Hyperloop.
The motivation behind this idea is the current state of transportation: it’s broken, and the future isn’t looking too bright. Musk is frustrated with the California High-Speed Rail (aka bullet train) in particular. Not only is it a ridiculously expensive endeavor, the train will be the slowest relative to others in its class. Some quick facts:
- $68 billion construction costs (current estimate)
- $2.23 billion net operating revenue by 2023
- 2028 scheduled completion for San Francisco to Los Angeles
- 150,000 employees for construction
Yep, all that for a train.
Musk shared the attributes of the Hyperloop:
- 10% of the cost of California High-Speed Rail
- never crashes
- immune to weather
- 3-4x faster than bullet train
- average speed of 2x aircraft speed
- downtown LA to downtown SF in under 30 minutes
- self-powered via attached solar panels
- would generate more power than the system consumes
- power would be stored to run 24/7 without using batteries
To most, this probably sounds crazy. But given Elon Musk’s track record, I think it can be done. And apparently he does to.
“You think this is possible?” “Yes, absolutely.”
The only problem is Musk forgot to share the technology that would power this futuristic transportation system, or even vaguely hint at how it could exist. Any ideas?