10 Intriguing Facts About Elon Musk


Here Comes the Hyperloop

Hyperloop tube
Hyperloop tubes are displayed during the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The company plans to create a fully operational Hyperloop system by 2020. David Becker/Getty Images

In 2013, with his quirky brilliance at top gear, Musk felt bold enough to unveil the plans for his futuristic Hyperloop, a form of transportation dreamed up by the engineering teams at Tesla and SpaceX.

The Hyperloop concept is essentially a train inside a big airtight tube. The so-called vactrain would haul people or cargo along a thin cushion of air thanks in part to electromagnets that suspend "capsules" above rails.

In one initial proposal, Musk said the Hyperloop might be used in heavily populated areas like Southern California, zipping people from San Francisco to Los Angeles at speeds approaching 700 or 800 mph (1,126 or 1,287 kph), drastically reducing travel times and dodging gridlock that plagues the highways. For instance someone could go from San Francisco to LA in 85 minutes instead of the six hours it normally takes by car [source: Bradley].

Because Musk wants the idea to advance as quickly as possible, he provided the Hyperloop's plans as open-source, free to anyone who wants to take the technologies and improve them.

Although some people wonder if this project is really economically feasible, several companies, including Virgin Hyperloop One, have pushed to make the idea a reality. There's already a test facility near Las Vegas, and the organization is dedicated to building the first Hyperloop by 2021 [source: Hawkins].