Elon Musk is a man with a plan. Actually he’s a man with many plans – but what makes him interesting is that he has a record of actually making his plans, from electric cars to space flights, a reality.
To the point: Musk’s latest plan is an innovative transport system that will be super-fast and cheap. He described it as he once called it “a cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table.” He’s aiming at the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco – but he promising to release his plans open-source so there’s no reason they couldn’t be used elsewhere. Interestingly, the distance between Los Angelese and San Francisco is only slightly shorter than the distance between Sydney and Melbourne.
There’s not a lot of detail on Musk’s plan yet, although the smart money seems to be on cars moving in a column of air. What Musk has already said of the plan, dubbed the ‘Hyperloop’ is that it will cost a fraction of a traditional solution. California is already planning a high-speed train on the LA to SF route at a cost of $60 billion. Musk is saying his solution would cost a tenth of that.
Musk has promised via Tweet to publish an alpha design for Hyperloop by August 12. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with. Equally interesting to see if anyone in Australia picks up on this and looks at what could be done here. Because, really, when you think about the difference that a high-speed train could make to the way our country works there ought to be a lot more enthusiasm for finding a solution. This by the way is how a visionary like Musk looks at a problem like this:
…How would you like something that can never crash, is immune to weather, goes 3 or 4 times faster than the bullet train… it goes an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do. You would go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes. It would cost you much less than an air ticket than any other mode of transport. I think we could actually make it self-powering if you put solar panels on it, you generate more power than you would consume in the system. There’s a way to store the power so it would run 24/7 without using batteries. Yes, this is possible, absolutely.