Sometimes SxSW sessions really feel like being in a science fiction movie on steroids. Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk promised an intriguing view on the very near future: traveling at the speed of sound, in a comfortable crowdsourced capsule that has unsettling similarities with a gigantic gel cap pill.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn explained how the Hyperloop will propel you in a low-pressure, near vacuum tube on a comfortable air-cushion. The technology is completely run by computers, and is human error, bad weather and nasty earthquake proof. The Hyperloop will make hopping from city to city a very fast, very comfortable, and reasonably cheap experience.
Los Angeles to San Francisco
The first Hyperloop traject is a route running from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area, in parallel with the Interstate 5. The first projections foresee an expected journey time of 35 minutes (!), meaning that passengers would silently whoop the 600 km at an average speed nearing 1000 km an hour, and hugging a top speed of well over 1,200 km/h.
Help travel suck less
Ahlborn believes the key USP for the Hyperloop is helping city hopping suck less. He is convinced that at this moment no one actually enjoys travel anymore. No one looks forward to taking a plane or a train. No one looks forward to the journey, everyone counts down to arriving. He believes the Hyperloop will disrupt all this.
Ahlborn claimed also that the Hyperloop project will generate more energy than it consumes, and will run on a healthy green cocktail of wind, solar and kinetic energy. He also announced that construction will begin later this year on a 7,5 km stretch alongside Interstate 5 in Quay Valley, California, somewhere halfway between L.A. and San Francisco.
To avoid people getting claustrophobic, the Hyperloop will be fitted with “interactive panels”, virtual windows that will project landscapes through “motion capture technology.” These screens will actually shift perspective based on your position. On the window screen, other information will augment the experience: distance travelled, Hyperloop map of the trajectory, and current speed.
Musk and his team relay heavily on a crowdsourced team of more than 500 contributors to design, kick off and execute the west coast Hyperloop project. Crowdsourcers from MIT won a national university contest to help design the Hyperloop people carrier.