Elon is tired of waiting for others, Boring Company will build a working Hyperloop

Just over an hour ago, Elon Musk confirmed a major change to the Boring Company’s goals. Boring Company will now attempt to build a working Hyperloop.

Hyperloop was an idea Musk proposed for the high-speed transport of people and goods and published a whitepaper back in 2013. Almost 10 years later and this idea has still not become a reality. This move feels a lot like Elon is getting impatient with this as is now assigning the task to his Boring Company to get it done.

The Hyperloop concept is that to maximise the speed at which this transport mode can travel you need to solve two things.

First, rolling resistance. This has been already solved internationally through the use of MagLev trains that magnetically levitate above the track to reduce the rolling resistance of the wheels against the track.

In July 2021, Chinese manufacturer CRRC created the CRRC 600 maglev train which can travel up to 600 km/h (370 mph). In 2020, China had an estimated 38,000km of high-speed rail, which has no doubt increased since then.

By comparison, the fastest rail system in the U.S. is the Amtrak Acela Express, which features a top speed of just 240km/h (150 mph), but here’s the kicker, it averages just 106km/h (66 mph).

The second aspect is air resistance. The idea of Hyperloop is to create a tube and depressurise it to reduce that resistance and increase the maximum potential speed of a pod inside to more than 1,000km/h or over 700mph.

A Hyperloop trip from DC to New York would take less than 30 minutes, similarly, a trip from DC to Baltimore would take less than 8 minutes.

In theory, the Hyperloop tunnel could be built above or below ground, but given the Boring Company’s core product is a Tunnel Boring Machine that tunnels underground, that’s definitely the more likely.

According to Wikipedia, there are currently 7 active Hyperloop companies, many of which came from the Hyperloop Pod Competition.

Company NameCountryEst.FateNotes
Hyperloop Transportation TechnologiesU.S.2013Active
Virgin HyperloopU.S.2014Active
TranspodCanada, France2015Active
DGWHyperloopIndia2015Active
ArrivoU.S.2016Defunct[123]Ended hyperloop development in November 2017 in favor of maglev
Hardt Global MobilityNetherlands2016Active
ZelerosSpain2016Active
NemovoPoland2017ActiveNamed Hyper Poland until November 2020[124]

The Hyperloop Pod Competition was an annual competition sponsored by SpaceX and The Boring Company from 2015–2019 in which student teams and hobbyists participated to design and build a subscale prototype transport vehicle, demonstrating technical feasibility of various aspects of the Hyperloop concept.

The SpaceX Hyperloop test track, or Hypertube, was designed in 2015 and constructed in 2016, reaching its full length of 1-mile-long (1.6 km) by October 2016. The test track itself was also a prototype, to learn from the design, build process and evaluated how to apply automated construction techniques to future Hyperloop tracks.

To date, the Technical University of Munich Hyperloop set the hyperloop speed record of 463 km/h (288 mph).

What’s interesting about Boring Company themselves moving into this space is that firstly, they are a tiny company, with only around 200 employees. They have no pod design and would need to create one, along with the pressurised Hyperloop tunnel at scale, along with the terminals at either end of the system to get passengers and freight to the surface.

To date, the Boring Company has done some impressive work under the city of Las Vegas for their Convention Center Loop. Right now this is a demonstration of their capabilities, but the further stages of the project will aid in moving large volumes of people around the city in peak times like CES or the upcoming Formula One race in 2023.

After today’s commitment from Musk, we should expect the team at The Boring Company to expand rapidly to support the implementation of this idea. In terms of time frames, we know Musk likes to move with extreme urgency, however the reality is this is going to take time.

A location needs to be chosen, permits for the tunnel, then a TBM needs to dig the tunnel which is likely to be many tens of miles, likely to take years. During this time the pod design needs to be created, prototyped and then reach a stage where it can at least move freight before progressing to take passengers.

The good news is, that this problem isn’t going anywhere so regardless of how many years this takes if it works, it’ll be a revolution in the speed (and presumably cost) of transport and certainly secures the future for the Boring Company.

The Careers page on Boring Company’s website already has a number of offerings, expect this to grow rapidly.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwrighthttp://techau.com.au/author/jason/
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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