A Practical Project for the Hyperloop

When the storied Tesla Motors CEO promoted the Hyperloop, a proposed California high speed rail project between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 30 minutes, instead of the 2 hours and 40 minutes on the VFT, people naturally got excited. But there are three questions. Will the ticket price be compeditive with existing air travel? Second, will the novel technology meet problems in research and development? Third, would consumers like being shot along a tube at almost supersonic speeds?

Given the price of an LA-FS link would be comparable with air travel, and the technology is conventional, the largest question is the third – consumer acceptance.

An alternative to test the third would be to build a smaller mass transit situation to augment or replace an existing airport shuttle service from check-in to terminal, or even between gates. such a system would operate in a mode where the capsules would spend half the time accelerating, and half decelerating. It would not reach the high speeds proposed in the hyperloop of 1000km per hour, and so provide an opportunity to trial consumer reactions and refine the technology.

How fast? A 0.5g force is an acceleration of around 5 m/sec/sec. Consider a 1 km run from the baggage check-in to a remote terminal. Double integrating we get the distance travelled as 5/2 times time squared. Solving for 500m distance we get a time of 14 sec to the half way point. The top speed will be 5t or 70 m/sec (or 256 km per hour). The entire trip with deceleration would take 20 sec.

If travelers are prepared to accept a 1g force in both acceleration and deceleration the entire trip would take 20 sec with a top speed of 100m/sec or 360 km per hour.

This would be sufficient to test the system even on these short runs.

But we all know the feeling of being treated like cattle that comes with the existing shuttle systems at Dulles and other major hubs.

Private, individual or dual pods may be the most desirable aspect to consumers, as they allow transport on demand, no waiting, and would take the ‘mass’ out of mass transport. This might be the major selling point.