What we know about the Hyperloop thus far can be summed up in a few exclamatory phrases: It’s visionary! It’s crazy! It’s impossible! But we haven’t really understood much about how Elon Musk’s totally tubular transportation system might actually work—until now.
These Hyperloop imaginings come to us as the final project of Suprastudio, a masters-level studio at UCLA’s architecture school, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a startup based in Downtown LA—which isn’t technically related to Tesla or Space X because Musk said, hey world, here’s an idea, run with it people, I have to go work on batteries and getting to Mars.
A document was released by the school this week to coincide with end-of-semester presentations. And in addition to some pretty renderings, there is some very good thinking here (and, regrettably, some typos).
The research includes some historical food for thought like comparing travel times before and after revolutionary transportation infrastructure like the Transcontinental Railroad and the Panama Canal. Then, to decide which cities might get Hyperloop priority, 50 metropolitan areas were ranked by criteria like population, jobs, existing public transit, freight needs, etc. A variety of strategies are proposed, from connecting cities into giant mega-regions to focusing first on capturing tourism dollars. One proposed alignment travels the route of the proposed California high-speed rail network (which is currently being protested), with a spur off to Las Vegas.
There’s an idea for Urban Loops, which would travel within cities like subways. And, since these are architects, they’ve given some real thought to the design of the stations and “capsules” travelers will ride in. They even tried to tackle the loading and unloading of passengers—something that trains or airplanes probably will never nail.
Here are some images that caught my eye; only low-res imagery is available at the moment so they’re a bit fuzzy. But, like I said, smart and engaging. I’d ride this thing.
LA to NY in about 2 hours 45 minutes, compared to 6.5+ flying
50 metropolitan areas ranked by 9 criteria for Hyperloop-readiness
A comparison of how far from LA’s Union Station one can get in 30 minutes before and after Hyperloop
Proposed route alignment from Anaheim to SF, with a spur to Las Vegas
Structural diagram for the tube itself
Demonstrating the tubes’ multifunctional uses
Images of the tube traversing the desert between LA and Las Vegas
Integration with subway-like Urban Loops found in cities
A boarding strategy includes seats that slide in when the capsule is ready to leave
Instead of windows, passengers are treated to VR experiences
Read through the entire document and see if you find any more gems I missed.
Follow the author at @awalkerinLA