Elon Musk has woken up to a very disturbing reality that he does not like. Somebody else; namely Hyperloop One, now owns the technology he invented.
While Musk is still playing around with models in the parking lot of his SpaceX factory; Hyperloop One has built a working full-scale stretch of track in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Musk is relying on homebrew experiments from college students for pods. The unicorn has a full-sized Hyperloop vehicle up and running in its DevLoop track at the Apex Industrial Park.
That pod; the XP-1, has been tested at speed of 192 miles (308.9 kilometers) per hour, Tech Crunch reported. That’s the average speed of many speed rail trains around the world, and faster than Amtrak’s Acela trains on the East Coast. The Acela’s top speed is 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour, its average speed is 135 miles (217 kilometers) an hour.
Hyperloop One’s pod is already faster than America’s swiftest train. Even at that speed Hyperloop One has a highly effective transportation solution. It would travel the distance between Denver and Colorado Springs; around 71 miles or 114.263 kilometers, in roughly 25 minutes.
Hyperloop One getting Ready to Haul Passengers
The next job for Hyperloop One is building and installing airlocks so passengers can get into and out of the pods, CEO Rob Lloyd revealed. That means the company is close to having people or animals riding in its pods.
Airlocks will be necessary because the inside of the Hyperloop tube is a low oxygen environment. Air will probably have to be pumped into the pods the way it is pumped into an airliner for passengers to survive in there. Therefore a working airlock is a big step towards a working Hyperloop.
Hyperloop One Chairman Shervin Pishevar seems to agree; he is even handing out tickets for the first ride on his system to journalists. Not surprisingly Pishevar did not say when the system will be up and running; but he mentioned 2021 again in a recent Bloomberg Technology interview.
Two More Advances for Hyperloop One
Interestingly enough Hyperloop One has made a major technical accomplishment that the media did not notice.
The DevLoop is operating in an area of desert where temperatures often reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit (239 degrees Centigrade) during the day, Lloyd pointed out. That indicates his company has already solved some of the technological challenges associated with extreme weather conditions.
Since temperatures regularly drop below freezing in that part of Nevada, and the region often experiences monsoon rains. Hyperloop One is in a position to demonstrate that its system can operate in some very rough weather.
Hyperloop One might be Far Cheaper than Maglev
Another advance that Pishevar pointed out is that his company has figured out how to get the system to work with far less propulsion equipment than other designs.
That means it’ll be cheaper than Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains which are technologically feasible but cost prohibitive. Current Maglev designs require costly continuous tracks composed of magnets; Hyperloop One’s design only needs Maglev propulsion units every 30 miles (48.28 kilometers) or so to achieve high speeds.
If Pishevar’s claims are true, Hyperloop One’s system might be far cheaper than Maglev or traditional high speed rail. One reason why it would be cheaper is that pumping air out of the tube lowers wind resistance and increases speeds.
Beyond that Hyperloop One is planning to test pods at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour (482 kilometers per hour); which would equal the running time of the fastest high-speed trains in Europe and Asia. Long term plans include the building of a 2,000 meter (1.2 mile) test track that might allow for speeds of up to 700 miles (1,112.54 kilometers) per hour.
Hyperloop One’s System vs. Musk’s plans
Hyperloop One’s system is very different from Musk’s plans, The Verge pointed out. Key differences include the use of large concrete columns; like those under highway bridges, to hold up the tube and routes that run in a straight line.
Another major difference is that Hyperloop’s tube looks like a large oil or water pipeline and is hardly futuristic. Inside its’ pods look more like train cars which is understandable.
It looks as if Hyperloop One is doing the hard work and solving the technological problems. This is good news for those of us who want better ground transportation -but one person is not very happy about it Elon Musk.
Get Ready for the Battle of the Hyperloop Egomaniacs
Musk is getting frustrated with Hyperloop One’s success. Bloomberg Technology reported that Elon is angry because reporters keep using his name in stories about stuff he has nothing to do with.
The adult thing to do here would be to simply ignore the media morons; and send Hyperloop One a note of congratulations, but Elon Musk is apparently not an adult. His response has been to start trolling Hyperloop One with ridiculous tweets and ludicrous claims; for example the absurd assertion that he has government approval to build a Hyperloop Tunnel between New York and Washington.
This nonsense should have ignored; because Musk presented no proof, but the media bought it hook, line and sinker. The source of this problem is that Musk, like Steve Jobs, has a talent for bamboozling journalists. If Elon tweeted plans to show off his Iron Man armor; or his cosmic cube; on April Fool’s Day, dozens of journalists and several camera crews would undoubtedly show up on his doorstep to see the invention.
Will Musk vs. Pishevar be a 21st Century repeat of Edison vs Tesla?
Musk’s antics are likely to rile Pishevar; who is also an arrogant self-made immigrant egomaniac.
Pishevar’s background is similar to Musk, he’s a first-generation American (from Iran), a refugee from an oppressive regime, and a Silicon Valley outsider turned insider who has made a fortune through unorthodox means. The venture capitalist is also something of a nut, Hyperloop cofounder Brogan BamBrogan alleged that Pishevar’s brother left a hangman’s noose on his desk because of criticism of the company. That led to an ugly lawsuit between BamBrogan and others and Hyperloop One.
Expect some ugly battles between these two that will remind history buffs of the feud between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Edison trolled Tesla for years; because the Serbian genius had committed the offense of building a better electrical transmission system than the one he had developed.
Tesla won the battle because his technology; AC current, was better but not before Edison completely embarrassed himself in the process. For example Edison invented the electric chair; an incredibly cruel, inefficient, barbaric and inhumane means of execution still inflicted on convicts in the United States, to prove Tesla’s system was dangerous. The wizard of Menlo Park also electrocuted a circus elephant to demonstrate AC current’s dangers.
The publicity stunts failed, and Tesla’s technology became the industry standard. Likewise Musk’s publicity stunts are likely to fail and Elon will get bored at some point and move onto a new project. The most likely outcome is that Musk will get bored by the details of building a transportation system and go back to creating cities on Mars.
Therefore the future of ground transportation and Hyperloop belongs to Shervin K. Pishevar and Hyperloop One and not Elon Musk. For better or worse, the next evolution in ground transportation is occurring at an industrial park in North Las Vegas, Nevada.