Hyperloop: A Concept of 700 MPH Subsonic Train

He is a billionaire, entrepreneur, and inventor. He is the mind behind the success of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, the companies which are revolutionizing transportation on earth and space.

In 2012, Tesla Motors and SpaceX joint venture of companies invented Vey high-speed transit system which name is Hyperloop. Can you imagine that A-Train will carry Los Angeles to Edinburg in 30 minutes? Yes! It is possible.

What is Hyperloop?

Hyperloop is a mechanism of Very high-speed transit (VHST). He is Invented by Elon Musk. Elon Musk is the real-life Iron man. In 2012 at the PandoDaily event in Santa Monica, California Elon Musk proposed the fifth mode of mass transport calling it the Hyperloop that could allow travel at high speed.

After Musk’s initial proposal in 2012, the engineers from Tesla and SpaceX worked for about a year on creating a detailed proposal for Hyperloop, which was published in August 2013 on Tesla and SpaceX blog consisting of 57 pages explaining how people and cars would be transported from Los Angeles to San Francisco inside the aluminum pods traveling at an average speed of around 600 mph (970 km/h), with a top speed of 760 mph (1,200 km/h), allowing a traveling time of about 35 minutes, which is considerable must faster than the rail or air travel.

Concept of Hyperloop

The Hyperloop concept operates by sending designed pods or capsules through a steel tube which is maintained in a partial vacuum. The pods would float in (0.5-1.3 mm) layer of air using electromagnetic levitation or float using an air caster, surrounding the pod with a cushion of air that permits the pod to move safely at high speed, like a puck gliding over an air hockey table.

Image Credit: Hyperloop-One

Like similar to how pucks travel across an air hockey table. For propulsion, linear induction motors or magnetic accelerators are installed along the length of the tube propelling the pods forward. With so little rolling and air resistance, the pods would be able to travel at immense speed.

The system is intended to provide a more cost-effective and faster mode of travel between the cities separated by a distance of fewer than 900 miles.

The hypothetical benefit of Hyperloop includes immunity to weather, collisionless, rapid speed, low power requirement, and energy generation for its own operation.

Musk has describes the Hyperloop operation as a cross between the Concorde supersonic jet, a railgun, and an air hockey table, which acts as an air cushion for objects to move with little friction.

Musk`s original design recommends an air compressor on the front of the pod that will move the air from the front to the tail, which prevents the pressure from building up due to air displacement. Musk suggested that Energy to accelerate and maintain the speed of pods in the Hyperloop would be obtained from solar panels mounted along the track.

Current Scenario & Development

From the early stage, the Hyperloop design was made open-source. SpaceX has held design competitions for the teams to build and test pods that could use in the Hyperloop.

development of hyperloop
Image Credit: Hyperloop-One

Running since 2015, there have been more than 1000 team entries to the competition to work on the system. Since the launch of the competition, the companies have joined the race to develop the technology.

The main companies which are perusing Elon Musk`s idea are Hyperloop-transportation Technologies (HTT) and Hyperloop-one. Hyperloop-one was the first to conduct the test run on the track in Nevada desert, California.

The 28-foot long aerodynamic pod has reached 70 miles per hour in 1.6 seconds in its first test, it is just a fraction of 600 mph theoretical speed but it represents the significant achievement in pursuing to revolutionize the transport system.

The company will now move to the next phase of testing, where the goal is to hit 250 miles per hour and to deliver the operational system by 2020.

Whereas Hyperloop transportation technologies (HTT) is based in Playa Vista, California, and is building a test track in Quay Valley California. The company has announced an agreement with the Slovakian government and promises a prototype at the end of 2017.


Although it looks great on paper, and small-scale experiments reveal the Hyperloop is entirely feasible. However, constructing full-scale Hyperloop tubes of hundreds of kilometers long capable of sustaining a near-perfect vacuum will undoubtedly be one of the greatest engineering challenges in the 21st century.

Image Credit: HTT

Below are the most compelling problems that must be addressed before carrying a full-scale operational Hyperloop system carrying humans.


As Hyperloop tube will work under the low-pressure condition or nearly vacuum environment. The proposed full-scale system would be 600 km long so it would be challenging to create and maintain the near-vacuum condition inside the tube.

The tubes will be under constant atmospheric pressure as the inside pressure of the tube is much lower than the atmospheric pressure and in such conditions, if there is any fault with the pipe structure the air from the atmosphere is forced inside the tube and can collapse the pipe with pressure force.

Thermal Expansion

Throughout the year, the temperature changes a substantial amount across every part of the world. The change of heart would cause the Hyperloop tube to physically change its size.

Although the expansion is minimal for structures less than a kilometer, for structures extending hundreds of kilometers (like the Hyperloop) the effects can be quite dramatic. Due to thermal expansion stress in the steel tube can generate which weakens the joint and causes air leak inside the vacuum tube which could be disastrous

Potential cost

One of the main challenges to accomplish in order to commercialize the Hyperloop is the potential cost of technology. In 2013 when Elon Musk proposed the plan, he estimated that a route from Los Angeles to the bay area of San Francisco would cost about 6 billion dollars or $11.5 million per mile.

But the confidential report front the company Hyperloop-one estimated the projected cost to be between $9- $13 billion or $84 million to $121 million per mile. The route between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which the company recently announced would cost $408 billion, or 452 million a mile. That’s the huge departure from the cost of Musk’s vision.

The benefits from the Hyperloop seem promising and one day in the future would be able to travel long distances in minutes with high speed, but there is a long list of challenges that need to address to make this dream come true.

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