ELON MUSK: I Will Probably Build A Hyperloop Prototype

Elon Musk has
announced his plans for the Hyperloop, and he hosted a media call to take questions.

Here are the highlights:

How likely is it this will be built?

Musk says that while he will continue to focus on Tesla and SpaceX business in the immediate term, he is “somewhat tempted to make a demonstration prototype.”

He would build a sub-scale version, “then hand it off to somebody else,” he explained. “I’ll probably end up doing that.”

Later in the call, he added the prototype could be built on SpaceX land in Texas.

What would riding the Hyperloop feel and sound like?

It would be a lot like an aeroplane, Musk says, “like riding on a cushion of air.” You would not feel lateral acceleration.

It would be “really super smooth and quiet, and also there would never be any turbulence or anything.”

Will it really never crash?

Musk is confident in the safety of the Hyperloop, explaining that because “it’s not really moving in three dimensions,” it’s not going to fall out of the sky, and it can’t be derailed. The pylons on which the tube is mounted will work like shock absorbers to deal with the force of earthquakes.

Will the proposed $US6 billion price tag hold in the final version of the report?

Yes, Musk says, and it may be possible to build the Hyperloop for less. It’s also about 10 times cheaper than the high-speed rail system California is building.

How would the route deal with curves in Interstate 5?

Musk says the system would follow the route of Interstate 5, but that to get around some particularly hilly sections of the road, it would be better to send the Hyperloop through a series of short tunnels.

How long would it take to build a Hyperloop prototype?

If it were his top priority, Musk says he could do it in 1-2 years. Otherwise, it would take closer to 3-4 years.

How long will it take to make a full-scale working version?

That depends on how long it takes to build, Musk says, probably at least 4-5 years after the development of a working prototype. All told, it would take 7-10 years from now, “comparable timing to the high-speed rail project.”

How do you think proponents of the high-speed rail project will react?

Musk flat out said he doesn’t think the high-speed rail system should be built, largely because of cost. California tax payers will not only have to write off the $US100 billion cost of construction, he said, they will have to pay to maintain it for a long time to come.

How many people were working on this design?

About a dozen engineers from Tesla and SpaceX were working on the Hyperloop, and it was “very much a background task. It wasn’t anybody’s full time job.”

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