A Bullet Train for the Next Generation

It wasn’t long ago that we heard about California’s high-speed rail. You remember the one meant to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles…

Not long after that announcement, we all received a very articulate and well-thought-out objection from Elon Musk, futurist and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors.

In keeping with his nonconformist style, his argument wasn’t just a whiny complaint about how expensive the project would be.

It wasn’t even a complaint about how wasteful those expenses actually are.

…these cars could reach speeds of up to 800 mph, which would allow you to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes…

Instead, it came in the form of a whitepaper…

A paper detailing an alternative solution to the high-speed rail that he believed would:

a. Outperform the original high-speed rail design, and

b. Do so at a fraction of the cost.

Well done, Mr. Musk.

Now, as comprehensive as his plan was, there was a considerable amount of blowback about the project.

And it’s been so long since we’ve heard anything that it seems like most people either forgot about it or decided it just wasn’t going to happen.

Luckily for those of us that love all things awesome, those people were wrong.

Because according to Patricia Galloway, Musk’s wild concept is no dream.

In fact, it just took one step closer to becoming a reality.

On Thursday morning, Galloway revealed that she’ll be heading up a new company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc.

And while the company doesn’t have an actual prototype ready for testing, they do seem to have an outline and general sense of what it will take to bring this idea out of the realm of science fiction and into the real world where regular folks like you and I can get some use out of it.

Just in case you weren’t around or somehow missed the white paper that Musk released back in August, let me give you a quick refresher on some of the highlights of the Hyperloop:

The vehicle itself is essentially a steel bullet that’s propelled through an evacuated tube on an air bearing.

That’s really just a fancy way of saying that they suck most of the air out of the tunnel and shoot this car through on a tiny air cushion. This method reduces wind resistance, among other things, and decreases the amount of energy need to move the cars.

With no air to push out of the way, these cars could reach speeds of up to 800 mph, which would allow you to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes, or from Washington, D.C., to San Diego in about four hours.

In addition, Hyperloop also promises to be safer and cost only about 9% of what we’ll have to fork over to build the regular high-speed commuter train.

And if all that weren’t enough, it also claims to be able to virtually power itself through a series on solar collectors, only needing power from the grid on rare occasions.

Unfortunately, the high-speed rail in California seems to be moving forward very, very slowly. So it’s doubtful we’ll see a Hyperloop there anytime soon.

But there are plenty of other places where people could benefit from high-speed transport like this, so we can’t wait to see where they finally decide to start.

According to a new timeline of planned milestones, the company will have an updated white paper for release by March of next year and hopefully a prototype as early as the end of 2014.

The company also announced support from a variety of other business including, but not limited to:

Manufacturing and design company GloCal Network Corp. (GLOCAL); UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s graduate program SUPRASTUDIO; and ANSYS, which has run an independent analysis to verify the overall feasibility.

So with all this support (and our endorsement), hopefully there won’t be too many roadblocks along the way, since I’d eventually like to ride this baby down to Brazil.

Here’s to the future,

Patrick Copeland
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: The future of transportation is tremendously hopeful. And presents some incredible profit opportunities for early investors. Readers of the Tomorrow in Review email edition are given regular updates on this an other major developments in the ever-expanding tech sector. Sign up for FREE, right here, to stay ahead of the curve.

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