The Hyperloop could revolutionize transportation as we know it by carrying people from city to city with extraordinary speeds and in complete safety. When Elon Musk first introduced the idea in August 2013 through a preliminary design document, the project’s passenger-only version was estimated to cost $6 billion, while a version that would also be able to transport vehicles was estimated at $7.5 billion. The project has received plenty of attention and it looks like it could actually become a reality, as Elon Musk is now building a test track through SpaceX while a research company called HTT is building a separate track in California.
However, a closer look at the project’s scale and limitations reveals that the Hyperloop might be nothing more than an unrealistic goal. Some of the main reasons behind its potential failure could be the vastly understated costs as well as several safety features. For example, the deceleration time for a pod traveling at up to 760 mph would be at least 70 seconds, which is worrying because the original design for the Hyperloop involved pod departures every 30 seconds. In the event of a failure, the distance between the pods would need to be more than doubled, while the passenger volume would need to be halved. This means that the Hyperloop could only be able to transport about 10% as many people as the California ‘high speed’ rail, for example, which is the project’s competitor.
Only time will tell if the Hyperloop will actually become a reality, but it’s quite obvious at this point that there are still quite a few problems to solve.
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