TE has a post on Elon Musk's unveiling of the "hyperloop" concept - Elon Musk unveils his plans for the Hyperloop.
Just now ... Elon Musk unveiled more details of his much-discussed blue-sky idea: the Hyperloop, a system to carry passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco, 382 miles or 615 km, in about 35 minutes — less than half the time it takes to fly between the two cities. While early rumors suggested the Hyperloop might connect Los Angeles and New York, and even New York and China, the alpha plans of the highly speculative system are focused in California, as a provocative response to a $68.4 billion high-speed rail plan to connect the state’s two largest coastal cities. As specced, that high-speed rail system would be only slightly cheaper than flying — and would take about twice as long, at 2 hours, 40 minutes. (Of course, right now, the train between Oakland and Los Angeles takes a cool 12 hours, 10 minutes.)
Musk’s Hyperloop is an aboveground system — long tubes set atop pylons — that could run alongside highways. The system would run capsules that hold 28 passengers each through the tubes, departing every two minutes. These capsules contain compressor fans in their nose that form a cushion of air underneath them.
“Wheels don’t work very well at [700 mph], but a cushion of air does,” the plans read. “Air bearings, which use the same basic principle as an air hockey table, have been demonstrated to work at speeds of Mach 1.1 with very low friction.”
Building the Hyperloop would cost about $6 billion — a fraction of the proposed high-speed rail system. A ticket on the Hyperloop would cost $20, far trumping both airfare and the price of gas for the same car trip.