AirTalk for August 5, 2013

Can the hypothetical 'Hyperloop' make California high-speed rail history?

Benloudtiger/Flickr

Two high-speed rails. The alpha design for the hyperloop will be released Aug. 12. What might this 'fifth mode of transportation' look like, and how would it work?

Imagine travelling from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about thirty minutes without the help of Scotty. Elon Musk, the inventive entrepreneur behind Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal, is envisioning a transportation tube he’s calling a “fifth mode of transportation.”

On August 12, he’ll reveal the alpha design for the project, then crowd-source ideas from anyone and everyone with a brilliant scientific mind.

Musk thinks he can make it happen for about $6 billion and with competitive ticket prices. His inspiration stems from his derision for California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project. He told Bloomberg Businessweek last year, “[T]he $60 billion bullet train they’re proposing in California would be the slowest bullet train in the world at the highest cost per mile.

They’re going for records in all the wrong ways.” Is this the paradigm shift we’ve been waiting for? How much do we know about how it would work? Why is Musk releasing the alpha design as open source rather than patenting it? Should officials with the high-speed rail project be paying attention?

Guest:

Alan Ohnsman, Bloomberg News reporter covering automotive and green transportation

 


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