[Above: Elon Musk's proposed ‘Hyperloop’ transport system would travel at speeds of up to 768mph and complete a journey of 380miles in just 30minutes – a positively glacial pace when compared with a similar proposal from 1825. Image: Tesla Motors]
LET'S FACE IT, at one time or another, we’ve all wished we could travel in tiny capsules that are sucked along tiny claustrophobic vacuum tubes at hundreds or thousands of mile an hour. Well, if recent headlines are to be believed, you might get that chance sooner than you think.
Last week, PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder, Elon Musk, announced his ambition to build a solar-powered vacuum tube, called Hyperloop, that will be able to syphon commuters to their destination at a head-spinning 768mph. At that speed you could cover the 380-mile journey between San Francisco and Los Angeles (where he proposes it be built) in just 30 minutes – all for the bargain price of £4.8billion.
The announcement was greeted by fevered media coverage, which announced that the ‘future of transportation has arrived, and quickly followed by blogging naysayers, who derided it as over-ambitious and likely to cost at least twice his estimate.
Maybe they’re right – traveling through tubes at the speed of sound certainly sounds like a deluded futurist’s science-fiction fantasy.
Imagine then, the reaction if someone was to pipe up and announce their plans to build a vacuum-based, tubular transport system that would whisk you along the same near-400-mile journey, not in a glacial 30 minutes, but in fewer than five minutes. Now that’s futuristic fantasizing.