Elon Musk releases his full Hyperloop plans, and Reddit points out every flaw in it

A few weeks ago we told you Elon Musk’s ‘Hyperloop,’ a theorized transportation system that would enable a person to zip from Los Angeles to New York in less time than it would take you to watch an episode of True Blood.

Today Elon Musk unveiled his lofty plans in a 52-page document complete with sketches, illustrations, and enough charts to make you think you were back in your college statistics class. There’s no way we’re going to break every chapter down for you. That’s far too much work to do this late at night. However we can direct you to the entire .pdf so you can have a look for yourself.

Elon Musk is offering the concept as open source — since he’s a friggin’ gazilionaire and doesn’t necessarily need the money this innovative transportation system could yield. Before he published today’s document, he did invite anyone to critique his work since in order for it to be ‘more than perfect’ before it’s eventually constructed. Well apparently Reddit took Musk up on his offer and 200 comments later, people are still pointing out the flaws in the Hyperloop. He’s just one of the many critiques.

Because it’s not actually anywhere near that cheap, or that fast. I’ve explained this dozens of times today because everyone is infatuated with the system, so I’ll keep it short:

Right of way costs: it cannot stay in the median of I-5 the entire time because of curves. Musk supposedly addresses that, but the estimated costs are hilariously below real life costs. ROW aquisition takes shitloads of time and money; this is what’s taking CASHR so long. Hyperloop will face the same issues, but in the city instead of the country so it’s even worse (CAHSR uses existing commuter rail ROWs in both LA and San Francisco)

It’s on a massive viaduct: CAHSR was supposed to be elevated, but they realized it was expensive and not worth it.

Totally unaccounted-for San Francisco Bay crossing: if you look at the maps, Hyperloop will cross the Bay. But how? The Transbay Tube cost ~$1B in today’s dollars, and it’s not depressurized or anything. The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge cost $6 Billion. For half of the bridge. That’s a lot. In the Hyperloop document, the Bay crossing will supposedly cost the same as all other pieces of the system per mile. Absolute lies.

No station costs included: CAHSR will build the brand new Transbay Terminal in SF for $4 Billion, and use existing or upgraded stations in other areas. Hyperloop will need two very large and completely new stations.

LA station is way out in the ‘burbs: it’s an entire hour by commuter rail outside of the city itself. If we also assume that the Bay crossing is unfeasible (which it is), then that’s another ~hour on the San Francisco end. Accounting for transfers, it’ll take at least as much time as HSR.

Politics, politics, politics: enough said

EDIT: Hyperloop can only send 2,880 people per hour per direction max (24 per pod * 2 trains per minute * 60 minutes per hour): this is barely a tenth of HSR’s throughput, and with the demand induced by the high speeds and ridiculously low prices, it’ll be a dozen times over capacity.

See this for more info.

Now time to actually read this bestially document and see what’s been swirling around in Elon Musk’s head the past few months. Props to TDM on the +100 news tip.

Published on August 14, 2013 at 5:33 am
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