Photos: Hyperloop high-speed tube transport system's Colorado roots

Categories: Business

Big photos and more below.
The tech world is abuzz in regard to a just-introduced and mighty bold transportation concept: Hyperloop, a large-scale variation on pneumatic tubes used at banks said to hold the potential of transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in thirty minutes.

The notion's booster is Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla electric cars, the SpaceX private space biz, and PayPal. But the idea guy is Daryl Oster, based in Louisville, ,just named America's second best small town. Graphics, videos and more below.

While most of us are just hearing about Hyperloop, Oster has been working on it for years. Indeed, the video seen here, which focuses on what was then called evacuated tube transport, was originally posted in 2009.

The clip's use of footage showing John F. Kennedy challenging the nation to land a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the 1960s suggests that Oster initially saw government funding as the best way to pull off such a massive project. Thus far, though, the person most energized by the possibilities encapsulated by Hyperloop is Musk, who's been talking it up for several months. Here's an interview from March....

...while this video dates back to May:

But Hyperloop made the leap from tech-conference chatter to the mainstream due to Musk's idea of posting a document filled with renderings, technical information and more on the Tesla Motors website. Moreover, the data is designated as open source, meaning other innovators are encouraged to contribute to the plans.

Daryl Oster as seen in a CBS News report.
Musk hasn't promised to fund the enterprise; it would cost an estimated $60 billion to build the L.A. to S.F. system, intended to prove Hyperloop's workability. But he's happily thumping the drum, as is Oster, who's prominently featured in a fresh CBS News report about "tube travel."

That piece is below. Included with it are a slew of Hyperloop graphics, along with text from the introductory and abstract sections of Musk's document, which is also included in its entirety. Also featured is another video of Oster and his ideas about how we'll get from here to there in the future.

When the California "high speed" rail was approved, I was quite disappointed, as I know many others were too. How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL -- doing incredible things like indexing all the world's knowledge and putting rovers on Mars -- would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world? Note, I am hedging my statement slightly by saying "one of." The head of the California high speed rail project called me to complain that it wasn't the very slowest bullet train nor the very most expensive per mile.

The underlying motive for a statewide mass transit system is a good one. It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving. The train in question would be both slower, more expensive to operate (if unsubsidized) and less safe by two orders of magnitude than flying, so why would anyone use it?

The Hyperloop (or something similar) is, in my opinion, the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart. Around that inflection point, I suspect that supersonic air travel ends up being faster and cheaper. With a high enough altitude and the right geometry, the sonic boom noise on the ground would be no louder than current airliners, so that isn't a showstopper. Also, a quiet supersonic plane immediately solves every long distance city pair without the need for a vast new worldwide infrastructure.
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