18 August 2013
Rails Inc believes Elon Musk’s Hyperloop transportation concept to be promising and exciting. Readers may be aware that this concept dates back to just after the Civil War (ours), when a pneumatic-tube subway operated under Manhattan. The technology of the time was not up to the vision, but the thing actually ran for awhile. Having said that:
There are a lot of questions we feel need to be answered (if this is not already happening) before this system can be built. Here are some we consider likely to be raised by the public:
— How will outside temperature extremes affect tube tolerances, if the passenger pods have to snugly fit the tube?
— How would fresh air be supplied and assured within the pods?
— Are there any solid energy consumption (“fuel economy”) projections per passenger-mile?
— How to escape either the pod or the tube itself should the need arise? Different door design for the pods? Elevators and stairs at every few pylons? How would exit / escape platforms affect the vacuum capabilities of the tubes? If one pod has to grind to a halt, how to keep it from getting rear-ended?
— How about windows or transparent tube sections?
— What about the sound barrier?
— What about the long-term medical effects of acceleration, deceleration, G-forces, magnetic fields, etc? Would any of this affect, say, pacemakers?
— Will personal electronic devices work in the pods?
— How does the Hyperloop compare in cost, efficiency and safety to “Urban” Mag Lev? For that matter, how far along is Urban Mag Lev?
— How big a market is there for the LA-San Francisco route with no stops between? Could San Diego be practically added?
— Will there be much of a cost or design problem running the Loop in and around freeway exits, flyovers and cloverleafs?