Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s concept of transporting people at speeds of 745mph (1,200km/h) seemed like something out of science fiction when he first introduced it two years ago, but designers are starting to get excited about it. Austin-based Argo Design is the latest company to unveil its vision for the radical form of transport, which Musk describes as a ‘cross between a Concorde, a railgun and air hockey table’.
Images courtesy of argo design
So what exactly is the Hyperloop?
It’s a proposed method of travel that would transport people at 745mph (1,200km/h) between distant locations, taking passengers from LA to SFO in 30 minutes, or less than half the time by plane.
The concept is a long vacuum tube suspended off the ground to protect against weather and earthquakes. Passengers would sit in either individual or group pods, floating on air, which would then be accelerated with magnets and solar power. Musk has suggested that capsules carrying six to eight people would depart every 30 seconds, with tickets costing around $20 (£13) each way.
The cost of building a line from LA to San Francisco has been estimated at $16 billion (£10 billion) – although critics say it would be nearer $100 billion (£65 billion). In comparision, the state of California is currently considering a high-speed rail system that would cost about $68 billion (£44 billion).
Until now, it was unsure what Hyperloop pods and terminals would look like. Argo’s vision proposes luxurious, augmented reality pods. Mark Rolston, founder of Argo Design, says that his team
focused on creating a larger capsule design that could transport not only human passengers but vehicles and other cargo. The design is a “capsule jukebox”, which would lift capsules off the Hyperloop Sled and onto the departure/arrival platform for loading and configuration.
To avoid a sense of claustrophobia, Argo developed digital wall screens called Tripscenes, to mime the sense of travel with landscapes, outer space and underwater scenes.They could also display relevant route and trip information.
Each capsule has a front pantry with an emergency exit, which doubles as a supply loading container.
There is an upgrade option from Coach to the Executive Meeting Capsule which seats eight passengers in reclining chairs, as well as the Business Work Capsule, which includes private working pods.
Earlier this week, Musk’s firm SpaceX announced that it plans to build a 1 mile (1.6km) test track next to its headquarters in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, and will launch a competition for independent and university engineering teams there next year to test designs for passenger-carrying Hyperloop pods.
The submission deadline is September 15 and the competition is roughly scheduled for next June.
‘While we are not developing a commercial Hyperloop ourselves,” says SpaceX, “we are interested in helping to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype”.
Whatever the outcome of the test track and competition, Musk’s Hyperloop concept and Argo’s innovative design are sparking innovative exchange about what the future of mass public transportation could look like.