Back in 2013, Elon Musk, with the help of Tesla and SpaceX engineers, announced a novel mode of transportation called Hyperloop. Musk introduced the concept to the world in a white paper titled Hyperloop Alpha and at the time called Hyperloop the fifth mode of transportation after, cars, planes, boats, and trains.
Musk came up with the Hyperloop concept in part in an attempt to find a better solution to a now-canceled multi Tens of billion dollars high-speed train project planned to link Los Angeles and San Fransisco.
In the Hyperloop White Paper, instead of using high-speed trains to connect the two cities, Musk proposes building low air pressure tubes that a pod could shoot through with minimal air resistance and friction at up to speeds of 700 mph.
In the 58-page paper, Musk goes into detail about how the system will work but, in a nutshell, Hyperloop pods will be fitted with electric air compressors fans at the front which will transfer air from the front of the vehicle to below it and to the back.
This has 2 important advantages. First, by removing air from the front of the pods, the compressor will decrease air resistance. Since air resistance grows to the cube of the speed of the traveling object at high speeds it becomes quite significant.
And second, by shooting this compressed air below the vehicle, it will create an air cushion which will significantly decrease friction. In addition, Musk proposed using onboard batteries to propel the fans and also imagined installing solar panels over the tubes to make the whole system self-powered and sustainable.
On paper, the idea seemed quite promising, however, at the time Musk announced that he will not be working to bring Hyperloop to life as all his time was taken by running Tesla and SpaceX full time.
After Musk's paper, several startup companies emerged to work on the problem however, 9 years out and we still haven’t seen a single working Hyperloop system.
That’s where Musk’s two companies Tesla and The Boring Company enter. Currently, the main focus of Musk’s tunneling startup is to significantly increase the speed at which tunnels are built while simultaneously decreasing their cost.
And as we have seen with The Boring Company’s Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, the tunnels, rather than Hyperloop, utilize Tesla vehicles to achieve this goal.
However, this apparently is only the first iteration of The Boring Company’s products, and as the tunneling startup grows the Boring Company plans to venture into the Hyperloop.
According to Musk’s latest statement, we now know tunnels that utilize Teslas will not be the Boring Company’s only product. In a Twitter back-and-forth a few months ago Musk announced “in the coming years, Boring Co will attempt to build a working Hyperloop.”
And for those who still doubt Hyperloop’s feasibility Musk added “from a known physics standpoint, this is the fastest possible way of getting from one city center to another for distances less than ~2000 miles. Starship is faster for longer journeys.”
In the coming years, Boring Co will attempt to build a working Hyperloop. From a known physics standpoint, this is the fastest possible way of getting from one city center to another for distances less than ~2000 miles. Starship is faster for longer journeys.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 24, 2022
Most of us have always assumed The Boring Company will eventually venture into Hyperloop however, what is surprising is that Musk put such a project only a few years out. And even more, interestingly, Musk made this announcement a few days after the Boring Company raised $675 million from outside investors valuing the startup at over $5 billion.
The closeness of the two events suggests, that The Boring Company might have raised all that money in part to at least fund initial R&D efforts for the Hyperloop concept.
And as The Boring Company works on the ground infrastructure necessary for a Hyperloop system, today thanks to Tesla’s showing at the Peterson Automotive museum we have received our first confirmation that Tesla will build the pods that will travel inside the near-vacuum tubes.
Tesla’s booth at the Petersen Automotive museum includes several interesting items such as an unrolled version of the company’s newest 4680 cells, the new structural pack, a Model Y rear gigacasting together with the 70 individual parts it replaced, the hummer and steel ball that broke the Cybertruck’s window at the unveiling, a post-crash-test Model Y, and many more interesting items.
However, one item that came as a surprise is a scaled-down version of a hyperloop pod that Tesla has designed in-house.
In the tweet above you can see the incredibly sleek design of the Tesla Hyperloop pod. And in a small description of the product, Tesla discusses how the Hyperloop came to be and writes “in 2017 Tesla designed a Hyperloop pod that was used primarily to push test pods into the test run tunnel. During a test run under its own power, the Tesla pod hit a top speed of 220mph.”
This is exciting news and it’s very nice to see Tesla venturing into other forms of transportation besides cars. Having said that, Tesla’s small description of the Hyperloop pod doesn’t answer a lot of important information regarding the product including the true size of the pod, production timeline, cost, and specs.
However, we will be sure to keep you posted once we learn more about Tesla’s Hyperloop plans. Until then, makes sure to visit our site torquenews.com/Tesla regularly for the latest updates.
So what do you think? Excited to learn that Tesla already has a design concept for a Hyperloop pod? Also, how long do you think it will be before we see Tesla Hyperloop pods transporting passengers from one city to the next? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
For more information check out: 2023 - The Most Incredible Year Tesla Will Ever Have
Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.