August 23, 2015
Elon Musk asserted that hyperloop transportation would be a cost effective addition to the US transportation portfolio. In theory, it would be the most energy efficient form of transport. Musk went so far as to post a 57 page outline of his idea in August of 2013. Now, hyperloop transportation is starting to yield tangible plans. Musk presented his idea hoping that some go-getter would take his plans and ride them at 700 plus miles per hour. They were relatively in-depth and well thought out, but even he said that it would take attention that he could not devote; to convert the idea into an actionable plan. The initial lack of interest paired with all of Musk’s other tangible ideas, seemingly relegated this one to the same place wherever all of the other Musk musings that never come to fruition go (cartoons made by Matt Groening?). However, this year the idea took a 180, and is now at the forefront of niche news groups. SpaceX will be building their own test track for universities to test out their pod designs. While the announcement of this competition was in June, the rules and regulations were just released yesterday. Apparently, the competition is split into two parts. First, applicants will meet at A&M University in January to present their designs. Those that have the moxie to move on will then be built at half scale and scrutinized at SpaceX’s test facility in June. SpaceX is said to be building a model to serve only as an example. Preferably, the increased exposure SpaceX gets from the competition will deter attention away from the rockets erupting into pyrotechnical displays plaguing their past. Beyond that, I hope that their pod works better than the university students attempts… or, at the very lower limit does not half scale explode. The other reason hyperloop transportation is spearheading transportation news, is because two companies are planning on going to market with the technology, and both are vying to be the first with a tangible test track. The first to enter the race was Hyperloop Transportation Technology. It was created by JumpStart Inc., which helps entrepreneurs attain all the resources necessary to create a viable business. Hyperloop Transportation Technology received crowdsourced funds and interested specialists to form their company of 300. The 300 people are not necessarily full time employees, instead, many of them merely donate their time and expertise to the cause in exchange for stock options if/when available. The similarly named younger company is Hyperloop Technologies. They are a more traditional company in that they started from scratch, sans crowd. Co-founder of the company is Shervin Pishevar. He is most well known for his profitable investment into Uber. He used the money earned from Uber to convince their interim CEO and full time CTO; BamBrogan; to join the cause. BamBrogan was the senior staff engineer of propulsion for SpaceX, shortly before defecting to vacuum transportation technology. Now that there are three tangible plans of action to make Hyperloop transportation a reality, only time will tell which will yield the superior product, both in terms of time efficiency and operational efficacy. Moreover, it is amazing to see three radically different organizational techniques, as far as the entities trying to make the idea into a reality. The underlying technology used by both companies and SpaceX’s competition; is an air cushion and industrial vacuum achieve the desired result of low resistance highly efficient mass transport.