Elon Musk’s Nonexistent Hyperloop Sounds Pretty Cool

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Elon Musk.Photo: Getty

For an idea that doesn't now and may never actually exist, the Hyperloop — Tesla visionary Elon Musk's plan for a super-speed transport system — sure is getting a lot of attention.

Musk released his "alpha version" of the Hyperloop plan today. The system, which would cost approximately $7.5 billion to build, would take passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes, according to Musk. The basic idea is a system of "aluminum pods enclosed inside of steel tubes" that would go up to 800 miles an hour using a pressurized air system. Basically, it's like those pneumatic tubes they use at drive-through bank windows, but for people.

Musk's full draft of the Hyperloop plan is here, if you want to read what amounts to a madcap inventor's sci-fi daydream. It's a pretty neat plan to think about, and an impressive exercise in technological hypothesizing. Unfortunately, that's all it's likely to be at the moment. Musk says he's too busy running Tesla and SpaceX to contemplate bringing the Hyperloop out of a PDF and into reality (he called Hyperloop "low-priority" on a conference call today), though he hopes some other enterprising soul will pick the idea up and run with it. Any takers?