While we’re still wrapping our heads around Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, it seems a new player in the ‘tube transport system’ block is intent on entering the picture. We’re referring to ET3 (short for Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies) and their ambition is to revolutionize not just local travel but international travel.
As ET3’s CEO Daryl Oster explained to TechRepublic, they’re calling their concept a ‘mag-lev limo’ — a ‘car-sized vehicle that operates in a network of tubes much like cars on a freeway’, and it will operate on a global scale. Their ‘car-sized passenger capsules’ could supposedly be ‘optimized for value’, with labor and fuel costs being reduced to only about one-tenth of the cost of flying. And they are aiming to build a network of tubes that will be accessible from different points along their route, just like how a freeway operates.
Initially, speed for interstate trips will be at 600 kph. Going forward, speed will be developed to about 6,500 kph for international travel.
“Our vision is being able to travel from, say, here in Cincinnati to the Taj Mahal in under three hours for 50 bucks,” Oster said.
So far, there aren’t specifics yet on where the company currently is with their plans. Clearly, though, they have a lot of catching up to do, especially because their main competition is already in the process of actual building and not mere conceptualizing.
The Hyperloop, which Musk described as ‘a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table’, aims to bring passengers to their destinations at a lesser cost and a travel time that’s way shorter than what today’s existing transport systems are capable of.
Based on projections, a typical 6-hour drive will be cut down to about 35 minutes through the Hyperloop. This will be made possible through the use of specialized pods that travel through low-pressure tubes at high subsonic speeds, reaching over 700 mph (about 1,100 kph). The entire system will be solar-powered and the trip through the tubes would be virtually frictionless courtesy of sufficient air between the pods and the inner surface of the tubes.
In spite of initial skepticism about the feasibility of Musk’s outrageous tube transportation concept, there are now two Hyperloop projects underway. There’s ‘Hyperloop One’ which has already completed its test track in Nevada and is planning a public trial run by the end of June. And there’s also Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) which is aiming to connect the entire European continent via a tube transportation network, starting with the Czech Republic, or more specifically, starting off by connecting Brno, Czech Republic with Bratislava, Slovakia.
Although it might still be a few years before we get to see the fruition of these ‘tube transportation’ systems, the fact that they’re already in the works is enough to make the future of travel bright enough to look forward to and get excited about.