Tesla Motor’s unconventional CEO might very well be the Willy Wonka of modern transportation.
Instead of Everlasting Gobstoppers, Elon Musk wants to build a test track for a high-speed elevated transportation rail system called a “Hyperloop.’’ Think of it as Musk’s version of a Great Glass Elevator.
Last Thursday, Musk made the announcement via Twitter and hinted at a possible location for the Hyperloop site.
Will be building a Hyperloop test track for companies and student teams to test out their pods. Most likely in Texas.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2015
Musk later sent out another tweet explaining who could make the best use of the track.
Also thinking of having an annual student Hyperloop pod racer competition, like Formula SAE http://t.co/HV9BLCoMb8— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2015
Musk, who is also the CEO and founder of SpaceX, a space exploration company, first floated the idea of a Hyperloop in 2013 and has referred to it as the “fifth mode of transportation’’ after cars, trains, planes, and boats.
The Hyperloop design uses a pod that can accommodate six people. Powerful magnets move the pod through a tube at speeds of 600 to 800 miles per hour. The insanely rapid device could reduce an hour-long trip to just a few minutes. It could cost somewhere between $6 and $10 billion to build, according to Musk’s estimate.
While appearing at the Texas Transportation Forum last week, Musk revealed his plans to construct a 5-mile track to test prototype pods that could someday travel at hundreds of miles per hour on a full Hyperloop system.
Musk believes the Hyperloop would serve neighboring cities (no more than 900 miles apart) that have high rates of traffic congestion between each other. A 58-page paper posted on Tesla’s blog outlines the details of the concept, and predicts Hyperloop trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco could be reduced to roughly 30 minutes, compared to six hours by car.
A team of more than 100 engineers has been working to develop Musk’s ambitious vision since 2013. The group was organized by California-based crowdfunding company JumpStartFund, and is organized into several specialized groups according to specific talents and skills.
“Since the idea was been released we have done a lot of work on getting people organized, said JumpStartFund CEO Dirk Ahlborn. To be part of the Hyperloop’s core team, members must be willing to commit a minimum of 10 hours per week to the project. But Ahlborn, who is also the CEO of subsidiary company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc., told Boston.com that many team members go beyond that commitment, working as much as 20 to 40 hours per week.
JumpStartFund organizes the engineering teams to build each component of the highly complex project so that the pieces work together smoothly. The company has partnered with UCLA, ANSYS, and GloCal Newtork Corporation for various areas of expertise.
“There are a lot of people who are passionate about the project who are coming together and dedicating their day to moving this project forward,’’ said Ahlborn. “With the way things are going, with so many people coming forward to help, I think we’ll see the Hyperloop happen in the next few years.’’