What if you could get from Los Angeles to San Francisco, or from Washington, DC to Columbus, OH in 30 minutes, moving comfortably at up to 800 miles per hour, all without parking at an airport, waiting in a long security line, or leaving your water bottle and toiletries behind? As unrealistic as this sounds, it could very much be your realty sooner than you think.
Remember when you used to go to the bank, and rather than depositing cash or checks directly into the ATM, you would pull up to a station and load your deposit into a small plastic pod? The pod would then shoot through a tube to the teller who would process your request. At the risk of grossly over-simplifying, a cutting edge high-speed infrastructure system, called Hyperloop, would work like that, except that it would transport people and freight rather than cash and checks.
This project, which is the brainchild of inventor, entrepreneur, and Tesla founder, Elon Musk, is on its way to viability, with track and capsule designs being developed now. The project’s developer, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, plans to begin construction on a passenger-ready prototype in 2016.
To accelerate development, SpaceX is backing an open competition for engineers and students to design the best Hyperloop pods, which will be tested on a one-mile Hyperlook track in Hawthorne California. The competition is set to occur during the summer of 2016.
Many say that Musk’s original $6 billion dollar estimate to construct the Los Angeles to San Francisco route is unreasonably low. Plus, there is no doubt that both track and pod developers will encounter hiccups along the way, which will likely set production behind schedule. But, even if costs are double and project runs years past original construction dates, what a revolutionary and innovative mode of transportation this would be.
This is the type of project we should all be excited about, as it demonstrates what might be possible when our best minds innovate to find better infrastructure solutions.
 Could Hyperloop Really Cost $6 Billion? Critics Say No, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/15/could-the-hyperloop-really-cost-6-billion-critics-say-no/?_r=0
 Musk’s Hyperloop on Track to Start Construction in 2016, http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/startups/mike_hower/musk%E2%80%99s_hyperloop%E2%80%99_start_construction_2016