Tube systems have been known for ages to transport letters or important documents and nowadays for sending urgent documents or samples in hospitals. But what exactly is a tube system for humans?? Elon Musk, founder of Tesla motors, came up with this idea and plans to transport passengers with his System Hyperloop from A to B at hypersonic speed.
Sounds crazy? Maybe it is a little futuristic, but the thought is really quite exciting.
Tube systems for humans – how does that work?
Covering a 600 km distance (ca 373 miles) from San Francisco to Los Angeles at sonic speed in just 35 minutes – that sounds great, doesn’t it? Elon Musk’s Hyperloop project plans to make this a reality.
His system is a kind of tube through which a pod will be “shot” at 1,220 km/h (ca 760 mph).
This transportation system is supposed to be faster, safer, more comfortable and less expensive than alternative projects, like the high speed train in California.
Hyperloop will also be independent of any weather and be able to withstand earthquakes, which are frequent in that area.
Musk’s project is open-source and other engineers are encouraged to contribute ideas and help develop the system.
This is how it works
The system mainly consists of two components: The capsules or pods and the tubes. The pods are designed to carry 28 people. Larger pods are also considered which can carry three cars in addition to the passengers.
The plan is to for a 2-minute frequency of departures which would equal a capacity of 840 passengers per hour!
A total of 40 carriers are proposed, 6 of which are at stations ready for embarking and the others are in the Hyperloop carrying passengers.
For propulsion, accelerators are located within the tubes, which are equipped with electrical motors, similar to the one in Tesla’s electrical cars. These so-called linear induction motors are placed along the tube at a distance of 70 miles to constantly accelerate the pod.
The tube system will be elevated by pylons. However, the tube will not be rigidly fixed to the pylons to allow the system to withstand earthquakes. There would be a total of two steel tubes so that the capsules can travel in both directions.
Currently, two passenger stations are suggested, one in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles, where pods stop for 5 minutes so that passengers can embark and disembark. More stations are theoretically possible.
The Hyperloop will need a lot of electricity but will be self-sustaining. Elon Musk suggests solar panels running on top of the tube which will produce more energy than the Hyperloop will need to operate.
The excess energy will be saved in large battery packs so that the system can operate at night and in periods of cloudy weather. The estimated cost for the transport system of the future run as high as several billion Euros.
Scotty, beam me to Los Angeles!
No traffic jam, no wasted waiting time at the airport, no train cancellations – all this sounds really exciting. The Hyperloop does bring Scotty’s “beam me up” phrase to mind. But before this is a reality it will take a while. Until then we can dream about short trips we can make at record speed! And imagine being inside a tube carrier and travel places.