Hyperloop passenger capsule cutaway

On Monday, Tesla Motors and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk revealed his concept for a set of giant tubes that he claims could transport passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes. Is it a pipe dream or the future of travel? We’ll also get the latest on self-driving cars, space elevators and other ideas for the future of transportation.

Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis
Thilo Koslowski, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, Inc., a technology research and advisory company
Damon Lavrinc, transportation editor for Wired Autopia

  • John

    I wish our local billionaires might one day consider ways to support and improve our existing transportation infrastructure (as well as other public institutions.)

  • Chomsky_P

    For Daniel Sperling – There were many bikers before bike paths in Davis. How much of a shift towards more biking actually occurred solely because of the bike paths? Can you speak to the evidence you use to pick out causation here?

  • John Tweed

    It does seem that all of Mr Musk’s transportation ventures are squarely aimed at the elite 1%. With 24 people per trip it is going to be a very expensive trip to LA. How many of us are going to share in the SpaceX experience?
    Also.. given the time it has taken to get nowhere with High Speed Rail in California, the hyperloop is just pure fantasy.

    • Kind of depends on scale though right? What if there are 24 people leaving every 5 minutes? All projects start small and economy comes later with scale. When first introduced, air-travel was not something most people could afford either. That being said, I don’t disagree that it won’t happen, but mainly because there isn’t demand.

      • He quotes a base fare of $20.

  • Gabe

    Regarding the comment made about American’s not wanting to use public transportation because we value our personal space: This comment is completely erroneous. Public transportation in the US is simply a poor excuse compared to other developed nations around the world. In LA public transportation was systematically dismantled by private interests, mainly automobile and oil companies working to build freeways. In the Bay Area public transportation provides only a fraction of the coverage necessary to make it a viable alternative to a car. It is also slower because of poor scheduling and the smaller number of trains. On top of all of this it there is not a significant cost savings from using mass transit in the Bay; a trip to SF from San Jose costs upwards of $20, which is about the same as the cost of gas without the convenience. By comparison, public transportation in Tokyo allows you to go ANYWHERE quickly and comfortably. The most heavily used trains run almost every five minutes at peak travel times, and there are multiple options for rapid trains, which doesn’t even include the Shinkansen high speed rail system, which has four tiers of service. The most interesting part is that their train system is public owned and operated, meaning it is for profit. When I am in Japan for work I find myself feeling much less tired when I arrive at work and at my hotel at the at the end of the day because I don’t need to navigate traffic jams. Public transportation will not be solved by a single solution, but by a large effort on multiple levels, but the solution must be driven by the private sector, otherwise we will be left with the current mess we have now.

  • WilliamWL

    There is no ONE solution. we need to improve ALL our transportation and fully connect our public transportation…and this is possible with technology.

  • Chris OConnell

    In terms of privacy: privacy in a legal sense only relates to those places where you can expect privacy. Driving on public roads is not one of those places. Sitting at your computer sending email, you can expect privacy. Talking on your phone in your home, you can expect privacy. Riding on the roads, or really doing anything in public, greatly reduces any privacy rights.

  • victoria s.

    sharing data? too many untrustworthy people… how do you address that challenge? really?

  • Chris OConnell

    I love hearing Daniel Sperling’s ideas.

  • Somewhat in response to Gabe but also just in general – comparing public transportation in America and other places around the globe, you have to take into account population distribution, topography and convenience. What works in Tokyo or parts of Europe works not only because of the infrastructure but also because of where people want/need to go. When populations are dense and people’s needs are also dense, public transportation is useable. Unfortunately, that is not the case in most of America. I don’t think it has to do with personal space so much as personal convenience. If all I wanted to do in a day was go to Starbucks, then public transportation would serve me well, because there’s a Starbucks on every corner. But for good or bad, we as Americans are used to freedom and choice and not having the ability to determine our destination and timing to the micro-level is limiting to us. I don’t think that characteristic is going to change any time soon.

  • Mood_Indigo

    What a waste of an opportunity to discuss a relevant idea from Musk and his group!

    Instead of having some engineering professor from Stanford or UCB to discuss the technological feasibility of the idea, we have a couple of journalists and a transportation policy wonk who immediately diverted the discussion of inter-city transport to bike paths in Davis (not that I’m against Sperlings ideas, but they were irrelevant to the topic of imaginative new transportation ideas)!

    The tone of zero technical content was set by the moderator who I believe stated that the proposed system by Musk would operate at a “vacuum of 1 bar”. Um, one bar of vacuum is zero vacuum since 1 bar is the atmospheric pressure. Maybe he meant one Torr or one millibar, or, hopefully, I heard him wrong!

    I am a big fan of Musk (a fellow foreign-born engineer) who has the combination of technical savvy, his business sense, his salesmanship and his irrepressible energy and enthusiasm. He’s making both commercials space flight and commercial electric car work as business models. People who sneer at him because he’s building “cars for the 1%” are ignorant of history that all consumer technologies from flight to microwave ovens to CDs in cars started as luxury items for the well-heeled before being reaching the masses.

    It always amuses me to observe the sanctimonious lefties in Bay Area whose mixture of antipathy and envy of technologists and technological achievement occurring in their backyard is only exceeded by the lack of knowledge or interest in science and technologies. Forum perfectly captures this attitude 🙂 If this program was happening 110 years ago, Forum would be tut-tutting against efforts in manned flight vehicle instead of building more environmentally-friendly buggy paths!

  • Mano

    I was hoping that someone would mention one other hardly spoken about technology that is being explored by some of the Auto makers called the Compressed Air Technology(CAT), unfortunately I was on the road and could mention this during the live program. Although this technology may not very suitable for personal use in the United States, if this can be adopted in countries like India and China where the city driving speeds are less than 40 miles/hr it would be a huge reduction in the Carbon footprint. This technology can be very much used in the united states in the City busses, Garbage trucks and other industrial vehicles as of the development today. Like all other technologies this too has its pro’s and con’s but in a few years this could prove to be a great alternative at least in certain sector of transportation in different parts of the world. Just one more to the list, Hybrid, Plug-in (Fuel cell’s)….and CAT.
    Below are some references if you are interested in checking out this technology.
    1. http://www.mdi.lu/english/entreprises.php

    2. http://www.autoevolution.com/news/compressed-air-powered-tata-nano-to-get-200-km-125-miles-range-53879.html

    3. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=compressed+air+vehicles&oq=compressed+air+vehicles&gs_l=youtube.3..0.3389.9615.0.9731.…0.0…1ac.1.11.youtube.bekRsxmBaPs

    Hope to hear this technology being discussed in a similar program in the near future.

  • Shane

    Surprised I didn’t hear any mention of the 3-wheel Elio car, which will be made in the USA and cost only $6800.

  • Chemist150

    Logan’s Run. I wonder where he got the idea…

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    An ad for Elon? Again, no opposing points of view. EVs are not eco. A grease car is, but somehow the environmental movement has been reduced to “one idea and it better be mine.”

  • Bob Fry

    I’m finally listening to this show. Yeah, a big disappointment in that it’s various random transport ideas, not the hyperloop.

    As far as the hyperloop, gee, can’t the state take a half-way serious look at this? They throw money away on all sorts of other bogus ideas, a few million just to study this and list the biggest problems would be interesting. Our society is nearly completely paralyzed, feminized, and timidified, we’re scared of our own shadows.

  • greg

    A great invention! If he can carry passengers as quickly possible to use it for the purposes of logistics for cargo shipping, for air transportation? Sometimes you just need fast delivery of cargo as regards food, etc etc. This invention will go down in history!

  • Mike Kasperzak

    I was encouraged to hear some discussion of PRT (personal rapid transit). The problem with any kind of new transportation infrastructure is that nobody wants to fund it. Such is even the case with Hyperloop. Most private sector folks say something like this is for the Feds, but the federal government takes too long and has too many hurdles. If only the Angel/VC world would start investing in something we really need rather than more computer games (and would help get their employees to work more effectively) we might see something happen.

    The City of Mountain View is a perfect example of “last mile” issues. The Caltrain station is a 1 1/2 miles from the Google campus, which is increasingly sprawling all over town and neighboring communities. A PRT system would allow internal circulation, connect with the downtown transit center, NASA and possibly even remote work sites, but there is no available system, and not enough “financial incentive” for the private sector to invest, and it is still too tentative for the Feds to invest in a “sequester” economy.

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