How the Hyperloop Could Change the World

People are bound to be skeptical when you put the word “hype” at the front of your name. However, the reason you should care about the Hyperloop is Elon Musk's track record of making impossible things happen. Keep in mind that this guy has been in business since he developed the video game Blastar, at age 12. He turned email into a financial instrument, with PayPal; his SpaceX built the only commercial rockets that could deliver a payload to the International Space Station; and with Tesla Motors, Musk has even managed to make an electric car that is miles from dorky.

4 Things You Need To Know About the Hyperloop

So, yeah. Musk is serious. Here is a very brief breakdown of his Hyperloop and why the world needs one.

  • The Hyperloop is essentially a futuristic monorail comprised of elevated tubes running from Los Angeles to San Francisco (although it wouldn't go directly into the downtown areas of either city), with spokes to nearby population centers such as San Diego and Las Vegas.
  • Pods containing as many as 28 people would travel at up to 800 miles per hour, more than twice as fast as some planes, and could cost only $20 per person.
  • The system runs on an electric induction engine proposed by Nicola Tesla and can be powered by solar energy with zero emissions.
  • It would cost one tenth as much as the current high-speed rail proposal and revolutionize travel between major cities.
Life in Tube Land

Musk explained that there are limits to this new form of transportation, “It makes sense for things like L.A. to San Francisco, New York to D.C., New York to Boston and that sort of thing. Over 1,000 miles, the tube cost starts to become prohibitive, and you don’t want tubes every which way. You don’t want to live in Tube Land.”

One of the most obvious benefit of the Hyperloop is that it vastly expands recruiting territories. Companies would have a greater pool of candidates to choose from, as employees could commute hundreds of miles away from the office. On deeper reflection, what it really means is a merging of America's biggest metropolitan regions.

It can become a new economic engine by creating a practical way for talent to reach vision, for investors to discover inventors and for families to heal the distances between them. As the development of commercial airlines unleashed the economic boom of the 1950s, the economic possibilities of this technology could be truly staggering. 

Is the Hyperloop a Sure Thing?

Let's be clear, though. The Hyperloop is purely hypothetical at this point, and Musk readily declared that he won't be available to work out the details. It would cost more than $6 billion under the best of circumstances, although I do think Jonah Peretti's idea  of an LA to Vegas route funded by the casinos is a great one. The first working model is at least seven years away and in that time, there will be plenty of hurdles to clear even if California approves it – and that's a long shot. On the other hand, it is not nearly as long as a rocket flight to geostationary orbit, so I wouldn't bet against him on this one.