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So Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Is Actually Getting Kinda Serious

Stashed in: Transportation!, @elonmusk, Elon Musk, Hyperloop!, Hyperloop

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Getting realer by the minute.

The startup plans to start construction on a full-scale, passenger-ready Hyperloop in 2016. The prototype will run 5 miles through Quay Valley, a planned community rising from nothing along Interstate 5, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Ahlborn says he’s got several potential investors.

The startup also announced today that it has 400 “team members” working on the project. They aren’t employees, but women and men with regular gigs at places like NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX, who spend their spare time on Hyperloop in exchange for stock options. It’s easy to see why they want to get involved: It’s the chance to work on a truly revolutionary form of transportation—even if some remain convinced it’s never gonna happen.

The partnerships with Oerlikon and Aecom are a big endorsement, suggesting the prototype may be a real thing, not an idea whipped up by Don Quixote. It shows the project is worthy of time and effort from two publicly traded companies with shareholders to answer to. And these companies know what they’re doing. Oerlikon has been in the vacuum business for more than a century, and has worked on projects like the large hadron collider at CERN.

That's good but a Reddit comment is a bit more skeptical:

I was enthusiastic with that idea, until I read Alon Levy's skeptical piece on it, which essentially says: yeah, it can be done, but it won't be as cheap as claimed, nor will it be within acceptable comfort and safety levels.

700 Reddit comments:

Well they could still sell to Theme Parks where people pay to be transported in unacceptable and uncomfortable ways. 

Great critique by Alon Levy. But to be fair to Elon Musk, this isn't his actual business for which he's responsible for the research -- he just dropped the concept and explicitly said someone else needs to do all the work. Flim-flam or not, this is the most excited I've seen tech people get about a non-individualistic transportation option in a long time. You know what they say: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” 

Apparently that quote is from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

It's fascinating that all Elon Musk had to do was put the idea out there and suddenly others were rushing to make it real.

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