Elon Musk founder of Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla has unveiled his proposed ‘Hyperloop’ transport concept.
Taking just 30 minutes to link San Francisco and Los Angeles the system would use magnets and fans to propel a capsule that floats on a cushion of air, through an almost frictionless tube.
In a paper outlining the Hyperloop proposal, Mr Musk suggested the solar-powered system would be a faster, safer, less costly, and more efficient mode of transport between Los Angeles and San Francisco than the high-speed train currently under development.
“Short of figuring out real teleportation, which would of course be awesome… the only option for superfast travel is to build a tube over or under the ground that contains a special environment,” he wrote.
Mr Musk estimated the system linking the two cities, which are 380 miles (610km) apart, would cost $6bn (£3.9bn).
Capsules could depart as often as every 30 seconds and could also carry cars, travelling at up to 760mph (1,220 km/h), nearly the speed of sound.
Passengers seated in cabins inside the capsules would experience slightly more than the force of gravity, more like on an aeroplane than a roller coaster, he said on a conference call.
He said he would likely build a prototype of the concept, but not immediately, as he is busy with his commercial space project SpaceX.
A demonstration model would take up to four years to complete, he said.
He said the concept would best work between cities closer than 1,000 miles, because beyond that supersonic air travel would be preferable.
But for the shorter distance, his new concept would beat the plane, he argues, because it would not waste time ascending and descending.
The San Francisco to Los Angeles route would be elevated alongside a current California motorway, which would enable it to be constructed with minimal disputes over land rights, Mr Musk said. The tube and supporting columns would be designed to withstand earthquakes.
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