Elon Musk's futuristic Hyperloop train, which will zoom people around at speeds between 320 to 480 km/h (200 to 300 mph) using magnets, is set to become reality.
Hyperloop Transport Technologies (HTT), a research company that was founded soon after Musk originally conceived of the Hyperloop, have struck a deal to build a test track in California.
The test track will be 8 kilometers (5 miles) long, and construction should be done by 2017. Dirk Ahlborn, the HTT CEO, tentatively suggests the company may even be carting passengers by 2018.
Musk’s final vision is to have a train that links Los Angeles with San Francisco, a distance of 645 kilometers (400 miles). This nearly six-hour car journey would become a blissful 30-minute train trip.
A proposal of how to get into the train. Credit: Elon Musk
The Hyperloop train will run using a combination of magnets and levitation. The train itself will shoot through a tube that is elevated above the ground. Magnets will be placed on the outside of the train and on the inside of the tube. By coordinating attraction and repulsion, the magnets will propel the train along quite nicely. On top of this, each pod has an air compressor that takes air from the front of the train and blows it out the bottom. This helps the train levitate and also reduces air resistance.
The track designers will have to tackle terrain challenges if the test track is successful. Longer tracks will need to navigate mountains, valleys and even bends in the track. The ideal option is for the train to traverse a simple, straight path so that passengers are less likely to feel travel sick. This could involve tunneling through mountains or building bridges to soar high over valleys. It’s already looking costly!
In the meantime, you can check out some concept images for the interior of the train. The current plan proposes 28 passengers for each car. Another idea for the train is that it will be windowless, with the outside world shown on screens inside through the use of cameras.
Two mock-ups of the interior. Credit: Elon Musk