The Fallacy of the Hyperloop TT vision

When a Project Lacks Proper Due Diligence and Sound Vision:

The big idea behind an effective HET3 – ET3-Hyperloop design is to create something new, something innovative and highly effective… something much faster, safer and substancially more convenient.

Today, air travel is the best thing we have to move people and ship things around our globe at the highest speed… but, planes have to move through the atmosphere – we’re still moving at sub-sonic speed. The promise of the future is traveling in a space environment within an evacuated tube that will go beyond supersonic allowing hypersonic travel on earth. This is and should be our future…

In contrast, air travel – not to mention, the entire system of terminals where planes have to gate for boarding and un-boarding is outdated. In addition, air travel for passengers has become bogged down so much that getting from point A to B takes a lot longer while more stops are added along the travel path that requires more boarding and un-boarding – passengers have to do all that switching between gates then wait during long layovers for their next flight where they’ll board once again. These measures have been implemented in order to extract greater profits toward sustainable airline businesses.

A tedious and outdated system that wastes a lot of valuable time. Also, air for moving freight is inefficient due to high cost, not to mention the carbon footprint effect. But it is the most convenient at this time for getting smaller shipments from point A to B in the most time-efficient manner.

Ground transport in some respects is a different story. Today, for freight, we use rail technology to move larger loads with greater efficiency.

Continue here from LinkedIn article: There’s a reason Berkshire Hathaway has invested heavily in railroads, because they still work and, they continue being a foundational workhorse. On the passenger – rail transport side though, there’s still the element of changing lines at designated terminals where we switch from one line to another that eventually gets us to our desired destination.

The only thing that’s changed most over time is rail’s propulsion technology from steam to electric and diesel. Only problem with rail transport is the slowness. Same goes for maritime shipping. Did you know that maritime shipping is even more energy efficient than rail and that canal barge beats all?  Good stuff for heavy load lifting for sure as long as you can plan ahead and have the time to wait. Weather also plays a potential disruptive factor.

There have been some advancements in the rail transport arena though. For example – the use of magnetic levitation for high speed passenger trains increases efficiency via friction reduction. Currently, there are 5 high-speed maglev rail systems in Japan, China and South Korea that use linear electric motors for propulsion.

All of these still move through the atmosphere though. There’s been a lot of talk regarding trains moving into evacuated environments or Vactrains. But the idea, like a whale-sized Hyperloop such as Hyperloop TTs concept is completely impractical and cost-ineffective. The infrastructure needed to support such systems requires far too much material to construct.

To date, the companies that have created the latest rail tech with the objective of increasing speed and efficiency are always looking to improve those elements further. Also, there’s consideration for using alternative power sources and hybrid designs. But reality suggests any further advancements will only extract slight incremental gains. Although it can be pleasurable to travel by train as a passenger, it’s too unsustainable a method that can’t serve near enough people en masse.

The issue is the sheer mass of the infrastructure required to carry the weight of the transport vehicle combined with the load it carries. With rail – this element hasn’t changed since its inception. In addition, moving rail cars carrying freight at any higher speeds will most likely increase accidents. This is what draws attention to the Hyperloop TT concept, mass and weight. It already takes the average freight train moving at 55 Mph one mile to stop. Accidents continue to happen. The original idea presented by Elon Musk wasn’t about a Hyperloop train. More like a bus it seems.

One note for consideration regarding market encroachment concerns of both rail and maritime entities – when it comes to a potential/perceived threat of ET3-Hyperloop tech facilitating their displacement. If current air freight or trucking methods aren’t a concern, then why would a tube transportation solution become any more of a threat? The larger bread and butter heavy loads will still remain on ships and trains as they should.

Our focus subject today is Hyperloop TT (H-TT). Specifically, the focus is on the extremely large size of H-TT’s Hyperloop train like capsules and the very large tubes they would need to move through. Rather than focus on the extreme infrastructure cost of design and buildout, let’s focus on the simple fact that there’s another way to move things around that would normally go inside containers or rail cars. (Forbes Hyperloop Article image and link)

H-TT’s vision is to move large containers inside their massive capsules as a method of moving large shipments from point A to B. It’s important to acknowledge and understand that any tube transport project shouldn’t be designed and built to accommodate outdated shipping and logistics methods. The point is, we’ve already got enough well developed technologies to accommodate those large loads. Trains for the longer leg and trucks for last mile.

Why would anyone want to build an elaborate network of tubes, then move entire containers full of goods inside of them? Is it possible that there’s another way and approach that’s far more efficient and convenient that automates much of the shipping and logistics that are still being used today via trains, trucks, and delivery vans?

The greater question would have to be: what’s a better way that improves shipping and logistics on all levels?

As mentioned, we already have a well-developed shipping and logistics system in place. What technology could be applied in a way that would improve upon the current models? How could an ET3-Hyperloop design using mag lev and electric linear propulsion inside a vacuum improve the scenario in myriad ways that help achieve sustainability goals and objectives – while getting some of the smaller packetized loads to their respective destinations efficiently and cost-effectively?

What design would work best and why? Why would Hyperloop TT’s massive train sized capsule be a misguided approach that will be a costly mistake? This isn’t a pick on H-TT day, it’s just a reality check on vision gone askew that’s not based on reality and our needs going forward. The vision only reflects what we already do today with the added element of moving similar activities inside a vacuum environment. Not necessary for larger payloads.

The answer lies within a smaller design such as ET3’s use of inexpensive maglev tech and linear electric motors to accelerate small pod capsules in a vacuum environment. This idea isn’t new though… Daryl Oster, the inventor of ET3 has been dreaming of the idea and has been at this since childhood. The vacuum environment idea came about while wind tunnel testing at Walla Walla University in the U.S. state of Washington.

The first patent was awarded to ET3 by the USPTO in 1999. That’s 14 years before the Hyperloop-Alpha document was released and about 16 from the time of filing. It’s fair to say that Daryl has spent a lot of time conceiving and developing what appears to be a superior concept in so many ways. So much so that to date, both Virgin Hyperloop One and Hardt are beginning to present ideas that mirror the basic concepts of ET3. Virgin’s efforts have been exhilarating to witness and learn about… and have a development cost to the tune of over $200M USD to date.

That money was spent – first to attempt to prove out, then disprove the Alpha document Hyperloop design idea/concept. Then begin the process of designing and developing a much more efficient and elegant maglev linear motor system that supports a pod in a vacuum state. A move in the right direction at least and more like ET3.

Those are some of the elements of ET3. So much time and money have been wasted. So… getting back to the importance and place tube transport tech will serve and complement existing tech, we’ll now focus on how it will do that and what it can bring to the table. Most importantly, how it will perform transport of freight and people far more efficiently and intelligently.

It’s no secret that automation, AI, autonomous vehicles, and such are in the news every day. We’re absolutely moving in that general direction and things are only going to move that way more quickly as time moves forward. This is where technologies like ET3 shine due to the foundational nature of how the system has been designed to function.

ET3 for example uses smaller size pods that would resemble a small van in cargo space to give an idea of size, say carry up to 3 pallets of cargo. Alternatively, think of a small SUV that can carry up to 6 passengers for that side of things. It also uses automation intelligence for routing capsules.

Either way, the cargo capacity will be at 800-900 Lbs per capsule. The method of routing these pods through the network of tubes allows each pod can be addressed for a set destination. Once addressed, the pod begins its travel path – switching along the way until it exits at the final destination where it slows down with energy-recapturing technology. (reverse linear electric effect) ET3 estimates the maximum pod speed could reach 4000 Mph.

The advantages of shipping smaller loads (think packetized like internet packets) via pod will be extreme efficiency. Greater speed, and smaller loads will allow separate pods to be sent to various destinations that get product close to final delivery at 90% efficiency. From there, trucking – container-sized shipments or smaller vans can move things shorter distances to their final destination. This approach will save energy, reduce CO2 and lower cost of delivery significantly.

The idea of moving large containers through tubes doesn’t make sense when shipments of product can be sent from various global destinations in smaller packetized pods where those shipments can then be aggregated at the last mile delivery location to then be trucked.

The correct design will change the entire shipping logistics equation that everything needs to be consolidated earlier in the process, then sorted at facilities along the way until things get where they need to be. That process takes a lot of time and energy and the cost is significant. Not to mention, the carbon footprint aspect. Due to the high efficiency rate, maintaining inventories in more real time sustainably will be possible with smaller shipments.

If we’re going to introduce a new 5th mode transport technology, then why not think it through with a vision that’s in line with the potential 5th mode promises with the elements of speed, efficiency, and automation add to the mix?

Hyperloop – TT fails at this in every way. They need to go back to the drawing board or consult the people who are already light years ahead of everyone on this concept and have the patents to prove it. Otherwise, their currently active competition is already moving toward smaller pods and tube network infrastructure.

The first call they should be making is to Daryl Oster and ET3 before wasting more time or another dime of investors’ money. Also considering the long term effect of not addressing carbon-releasing activities sooner due to time wasted in ignorance. To date, the Hyperloop TT efforts – any IP that’s been generated has recently been sold off. I’d be curious to learn what those patents are and what value they could bring to the entire effort? Also hoping for the sake of those investors that the patents aren’t specific to the larger design ideas planned by the original H-TT effort.

The biggest issue that’s sandbagged this entire effort of all the players engaged to date, deals with the misleading concept and vision presented by the core design aspect in the Hyperloop-Alpha document. The core promise presented there that I believe got everyone’s attention was the element of open source. Immediately, we as humans seem to go to free as in royalty-free use. I believe that’s been a huge mistake that every Hyperloop project should step back for a moment to consider the broader landscape. Spending >$200 million for R&D to discover what others already know doesn’t indicate much effort toward the importance of due diligence. How much more time and money will be spent as a way of reinventing a wheel that’s already been invented?

Every effort that’s been launched to date has taken and run with Elon Musk’s vision of what a tube transportation system should look and function like… while glancing over his statement regarding ET3 without having a speck of curiosity about what the company is and what they’ve accomplished in terms of concept and vision.

Business and investments in new ideas and ventures typically require deep and well-thought-out due diligence – why has everyone skipped this most critical step while considering such a venture?

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