Feeds

Elon Musk to release open source Hyperloop plans in August

Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes? Okay, we'll bite: whatcha got, SpaceX man?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Elon Musk has been dropping hints about a revolutionary form of transport called Hyperloop for over a year, and on Monday he said that the full details will be released on August 12, and that the system's key technologies will be open sourced.

"I really hate patents unless critical to company survival. Will publish Hyperloop as open source," he wrote on Twitter.

Musk has described Hyperloop as "a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air-hockey table," and claims it will get passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes for a build cost of $6bn, compared to the three-hour trip promised with current plans for a high-speed rail service that's projected to cost $68bn.

He will be happy to work with partners, Musk said, which is handy since he's invested his proceeds from selling PayPal almost entirely in his Tesla electric car company and the SpaceX rocket firm. Anyone on the project, however, needs to "share philosophical goal of breakthrough tech done fast & w/o wasting money on BS."

Speculation is rife about what Hyperloop actually is. The most likely scenario is a maglev train running in vacuum tubes, an idea that has been around for decades but never properly completed. With no air or friction, carriages could reach very fast speeds with a low power outlay, and individual travel capsules could be loaded on as needed.

Such a system could feasibly be put up reasonably quickly using factory-built units slotted together, although getting the land access to build it will be another kettle of fish entirely. If Musk does plan an LA-to-SF tube link, he'll also be building on one of the more active earthquake zones on the planet, which brings its own set of challenges.

Other suggestions have included pneumatic tubes pushing passengers down the line, or even a series of conveyor belts running at different speeds. This hack, however, is making no bets until the details are announced next month; mass transportation tech is notoriously tricky and we've been burned before.

Back at the dawn of the 21th Century, Dean Kamen – a similar wunderkind to Musk – announced he was going to revolutionize the transport world with a device codenamed Ginger.

Ginger turned out to be the Segway, which while it has its uses, hasn't exactly lived up to its promise. It's a pain to use on the road, dangerous on a sidewalk, and has the unfortunate distinction of having had the owner of the company killed by one of his own contraptions, although the legendary British politeness was also a factor.

In the past, Musk has described the rocky road he has had fighting the motor and oil industries with Tesla, but with Hyperloop he's potentially taking on the airlines as well. His plan had better be very good, and even if it is, would most likely fail in the current US economic and political climate.

But if Musk follows through and open sources the plans (and the plans are feasible), some other country may pick up the ball if America drops it. The man has form for changing technology, and next month's release could be very interesting, indeed. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.