Hyperloop – What’s the Big Deal?

So far, all the Hyperloop talk is around a travel limit of 750 Mph or 1200 Kph – yet, what’s that limitation based on? What no one realizes, or what they’re not saying is this: in the past 9+ years since development efforts began, much of the original Hyperloop design has changed. Today, what remains are – tubes, low pressure – now lower, pods and the Hyperloop name. Sir. Richard Branson and Virgin Hyperloop – Hyperloop One have contributed the most promising development to date that’s disproven most of the original Space-X Tesla Alpha-Hyperloop – Elon Musk idea. the original limit was based on leaving some atmosphere inside the travel path. Remove that and you’ll really fly.

The changes – lower pressure, now a vacuum travel path environment, magnetic levitation, linear motors to accelerate pods, pod switching and routing, Virgin’s caravan concept where pods travel nose to tail along the route until switched and routed off to desired destinations for whatever’s in the pod is the right way to go, like ET3 patented as far back as 1999. No mention of fans and air cushion bearings that were the original basis of the Hyperloop design. At best, the scrapped ideas were more of a misdirection – a sandbag effort to limit Tube Transport tech’s greater promise and potential. The flip side? A vacuum environment allows travel speeds to be much faster – like 4000 Mph or 6500 Kph.

What’s left then of the original Hyperloop idea presented in Elon Musk’s 57-58 page Hyperloop-Alpha document?

This idea isn’t new. But much of Hyperloop will become reality in time. If that wasn’t the case, Richard Branson wouldn’t have invested so much in the idea.

So, it wasn’t Elon Musk’s idea. Musk says so at the beginning of the Hyperloop-Alpha Document. And yet, everyone believes he’s the inventor. Many who’ve written about it also think Hyperloop is a train. But, they’re dead wrong and clueless for saying so. What Elon Musk has done that deserves credit would have to be his suggestion that a system that uses tubes to move around at high speeds is in fact an authentic idea. Credit where it’s due, right? …name isn’t so bad either!

The effort that’s done the most so far would have to be Virgin Hyperloop. Recently though, Virgin decided to step back from the Hyperloop One effort and retract the use of its name. Yet, they still have their promotional efforts and website up. those will most likely come down as the effort has stated they’re switching to all freight – no passenger transport.

Yet, the effort built a test track in the desert, built pods, did and paid for a significant amount of research and development that resulted in the first manned loop test flight. Pretty impressive, right? Even more interesting though is how the small capsule that safely carried the first humans inside an evacuated tube environment has no resemblance to the original air-propelled design that Musk proposed in 2013.

Actually, There’s almost nothing other than a tube and a capsule that now rides on maglev and uses roller coaster type linear motor technology to move the pod. The original hyperloop idea is basically dead as it should be because there are so many better ways to levitate and move a pod safely that use much less energy. Also, the pods can move a lot faster than everything that’s being presented so far.

The cool and interesting thing here is how Virgin Hyperloop and another competitor – Hardt Hyperloop have concluded that designing switching and routing technology and capabilities into the network – pods will be able to move to any alternative tube along the route, or exit at anytime.

Now this idea of switching isn’t new either. There’s a list of patents dating back to 1999 granted to ET3. The interesting thing about ET3 is that they figured a lot of this stuff out first before building anything. Think first, then build after you’ve thought long and hard. Saves a lot of money!

It’s unfortunate that Elon Musk didn’t follow through with the proposal that he back and support ET3 instead of designing up the original Hyperloop plans that guaranteed a much slower system than ET3. Unfortunate as well, because companies like Virgin Hyperloop have spent a lot of money that turned out to be a lesson on how not to do an effective tube transport system.

But, that’s what’s happened. What few people know is that Daryl Oster, President and CEO of ET3 visited Elon Musk at Space-X in the summer of 2013, just before he published and released the Hyperloop-Alpha document. Do you know what Musk’s own people said? You should scrap your idea and back Daryl’s because it’s a much better and a more elegant idea – it makes a lot more sense. The people telling Elon this are engineers and physicists that understand when something makes a lot of sense.

But there’s most likely a very good reason that’s stated in the Alpha document referring to aeronautics that fly above supersonic speed, leave the atmosphere briefly into space, then head back down to earth somewhere on the other side of the globe. That seems like a great reason to attach a boat anchor to Hyperloop that uses air at a lower pressure as the travel support and propulsion medium. It’s pretty obvious, looking at it all today, especially considering how the major drivers and developers of Hyperloop efforts have dropped the pneumatic element.

Also, looking at the Hyperloop-Alpha document, it looks more like diversion and distraction psychology to divert anyone interested in the idea away from involvement with ET3. But, just like everyone listening to Elon Musk say that tube transport is viable, they’d also listen to him if he says that ET3 and other projects haven’t panned out or have “fatal flaws.” Interesting to hear him say that when Daryl Oster of ET3 in fact met with Elon to discuss supporting the effort and design, right? He could have just as easily written a check right there at the recommendation of his own people.

For a guy that’s done so much for bringing a needed concept to the foreground, it’s unfortunate that the sandbagging effect he laid out has slowed down the development and eventual deployment of such a promising technology.

Of the two people identified that I and other ET3 licensees involved in the ET3 project early on in November 2008, one was Elon Musk and the other was Richard Branson. It’s unfortunate that Richard Branson and Virgin have spent so much money to date on the design that’s turned out to be flawed after all. Now, much of the designs and vision going forward are looking more and more like ET3.

There’s a lot that we can talk about when it comes to tube transport technology, and we’ll get into that soon in another upcoming post.


let’s look at Musk’s published 58-page hyperloop-Alpha document… What’s it say on Page 2 about Et3?

“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?

If we are to make a massive investment in a new transportation system, then the return should by rights be equally massive. Compared to the alternatives, it should ideally be:

  •   Safer
  •   Faster
  •   Lower cost
  •   More convenient
  •   Immune to weather
  •   Sustainably self-powering
  •   Resistant to Earthquakes
  •   Not disruptive to those along the routeIs there truly a new mode of transport – a fifth mode after planes, trains, cars and boats – that meets those criteria and is practical to implement? Many ideas for a system with most of those properties have been proposed and should be acknowledged, reaching as far back as Robert Goddard’s to proposals in recent decades by the Rand Corporation and ET3.Unfortunately, none of these have panned out. As things stand today, there is not even a short distance demonstration system operating in test pilot mode anywhere in the world, let alone something that is robust enough for public transit. They all possess, it would seem, one or more fatal flaws(?) that prevent them from coming to fruition. (ET3 approached Musk at Space-X in 2013, presenting the idea with the hopes of gaining his support.) Constraining the ProblemThe 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. (Let’s be real – how safe will SUPERSONICAIR travel be? It will need to become totally inclusive and accessable to everyone. Can it? If so, how far off is that reality?)” Site construction in progress… please stay tuned! Thx 

Life on a Chicago winter morning… you wake up, open the blinds, It’s cold, windy, icy and snowy!

Chicago gets super cold in the winter, doesn’t it? You’d rather stay home, sitting in your favorite chair, sipping hot cocoa… than get ready to go out in the unfriendly elements, heading to work …am I right?

There’s a lot of reasons you don’t want to leave the comfort of your cozy home, winter elements can be dangerous for traveling, heck, even walking when it’s icy. Wouldn’t it really nice to just call in sick and instead of staying home…

You head down to your neighborhood Evacuated Tube Transport Station – Let’s shorten Hyperloop Evacuated Tube Transport to HETT, Ok?

When you arrive, hopefully safely without slipping and falling on the ice, you get inside the station, go to the pod loading section, pay about $100, get in your pod, it closes and gets ready while the air lock system creates a vacuum and prepares your pod for long distance travel – then you dial in your destination… Someplace sunny and warm like Florida or better, Hawaii!

Or maybe you love winter – a ski trip in the Swiss Alps is the medicine you’re looking for… either way, you’re going someplace that suits you. Once you dial in your preferred destination, the pod slips into the network entry tube, starts to accelerate… when it’s up to speed, merges with the local pod traffic flow… automatically.

You’re on your way and you’ve chosen Hawaii. Now you’re dreamin! Imagine how pleasant it will be when you arrive. You turn on the entertainment screen, then choose something educational.  The ride, once you’re routed and slip into the international tube network, will take less than 2 hours when you accelerate and reach 4000 Mph! It’s completely silent and smooth as silk.

Did you notice there’s no mention of slogging to the airport, no buying the ticket online, no researching for the best flight at the last minute? No standing in line, no being exposed to thousands of people who might be sick… and worse, get you sick too …and no stops or layovers!

No schedule, no accommodating airline schedules designed today for their highest profit, not your convenience and definitely not to make your life more enjoyable and easier… It’s like you went out to your car, and decide to drive to Hawaii and it’s easy – it only takes a little time to get there.

Let’s face it, traveling long distance today isn’t easy, unless you’ve got a pile of money and access to a private jet, am I right? Reality is, most of us don’t… and don’t forget about the weather and potential delays! Realities of long distance travel by air usually suck. Even a private jet won’t get you to Hawaii in less than two hours.

And guess what? You’ve still got to be back at work tomorrow for that “important” meeting! Try to do that today… seems a lot like we’re more prisoners to current transport modes and their outdated design, doesn’t it?