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Elon Musk’s newest idea: travel from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes with Hyperloop

He hasn’t mentioned what technology it would use, who would build it or how it would be financed – and the word “Jetsons” was used in describing it. Coming from anyone else, it would sound crazy. But if the man who revolutionized online commerce, put a private vehicle into space, and built an electric car that can go head-to-head with a BMW thinks it’s a good idea, we certainly aren’t going to write it off.

Speaking at the recent PandoMonthly tech conference, Tesla CEO Elon Musk described a “fifth mode of transport” (besides cars, planes, trains and boats) that he calls a Hyperloop. Musk speculates that he might patent the conveyance, which would whisk riders from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour, and “offer to open-source the patent to anyone who can make a credible case that they could actually do it.”


Hyperloop discussion around min 43


Interviewer Sarah Lacy: It’s like a Jetsons tunnel? You just get in and it whisks you?

Elon Musk: Yes. This is partly prompted by the California train thing. We’ve got a bullet train that has the dubious distinction of being the slowest bullet train and the most expensive per mile…What is the theoretically fastest way that you could get from LA to San Francisco? How would you like something that can never crash, is immune to weather, [and] goes three or four times faster than the bullet train that’s being built? It goes an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do, so you go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes. It would cost you much less than an air ticket or any other mode of transport, because the fundamental engine cost is so much lower. And I think we could actually make it self-powering if you put solar panels on it. You generate more power than you consume in the system, and there’s a way to store the power so it would run 24/7 without using batteries.


Image: NASA

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