Ilon Musk wants to create his own Hyperloop

Ilon Mask often acts unpredictably even for his surroundings.

A few years ago, world-renowned entrepreneur Ilon Mask spoke about the idea of ​​creating high-speed trains that could drastically reduce the transportation time of passengers from point A to point B. The idea is not new, but Mask presented a relatively objective technical calculation of the project, at the same time telling that he does not want to create a company to develop such trains and become its leader. The businessman said that his time is already scheduled by the minute, so there will not be enough of it for another enterprise. “I have no plans to run such a company, since I have to focus on SpaceX and Tesla,” he said.

The idea turned out to be viable, and after a while, several companies appeared that decided to engage in the implementation of the Hyperloop project. By the way, not only private companies but also the governments of some countries became interested in the idea. Musk really quite a long time (4 years) remained in the shadows, but then, it seems, he still decided to take up this project closely.

Last month, he said that he had received the first “verbal confirmation” of government support in terms of creating the infrastructure for Hyperloop trains in the United States. Then Musk talked about what happened on Twitter. Some time later, officials reported that there was no approval, with Musk only a conversation took place, which, however, turned out to be "very productive." As for the content of the conversation, then it was about creating a branch Hyperloop, connecting New York and Washington. If this route were built, the travel time from one city to another would be reduced from several hours to only 29 minutes.

The message Mask was a surprise for the management of various companies (they are far from being alone) who are engaged in Hyperloop or are going to do this project. It has been speculated that Musk plans to start building only the infrastructure for Hyperloop, not developing the project of this kind. But no. A source close to Mask has already managed to declare that it is about the intention of the head of Tesla Inc. to do both the creation of infrastructure for high-speed trains Hyperloop, and the vehicles themselves, plus the management of all this infrastructure.

Let me remind you that the main idea of ​​the developers is to achieve, if not the profitability of the project, then at least break-even. The system assumes movement at speeds of 450-700 km / h (although at the very beginning Musk spoke about 1200 km / h). The cost of Hyperloop is large enough. For example, Musk previously voiced the cost of the route that would connect Los Angeles with San Francisco at $ 6-10 billion. A system that would work throughout the state of California could cost the creators $ 60 + billion.

By the way, Musk is the owner of the brand Hyperloop. Rather, he does not own the brand personally, but indirectly, the rights belong to SpaceX. This means that, sooner or later, an entrepreneur can force other companies using the same word in their name to remove it. In addition, SpaceX owns the @ Hyperloop Twitter account and the website.

A surprise for everyone

Needless to say, the intention of Ilona Mask to enter the market himself, heading the company, was a surprise for those startups who intended to create similar routes and high-speed transport. These companies managed to collect hundreds of millions of investments, negotiate with officials of a number of countries and even begin to implement the test sections of the Hyperloop network. Now it is not clear what to do next. In the fact that Musk is able to achieve his goal, many were convinced. Jonathan Silver, the former head of the credit department of the US Department of Energy, says that Ilona Musk and his possibilities should not be underestimated. He knows what he says - in 2010 Tesla Inc. She received a loan of $ 465 million, and managed to repay the loan 9 years ahead of time, paying both the body and all the interest. And despite the fact that this period was not the most successful for the company.

“While we welcome participation in similar projects, we plan to accelerate the development of this technology as far as possible. We welcome and support all companies that are going to build Hyperloop and will not prevent them from trying to prohibit the use of the Hyperloop name, but only if these companies honestly work, ”said Musk. Thus, so far start-ups are not in danger of competing with the base company. But who knows how the situation can change in the future.

Mask previously showed his vision of the economic principle of Hyperloop. Passengers will ride for free , but for additional services have to pay. In addition, it is possible that everyone will pay for the opportunity to get from point A to point B during peak hours. The company will use mainly "green" energy. Basically, it's about solar and wind energy.

And what about competitors?

At the moment, we know about three large (relatively) companies that are working to create a network of high-speed trains, which work on the principle voiced by Musk in 2013. Shervin Pishevar, head of Hyperloop One, on Wednesday announced that his company had completed the second phase of vehicle testing in Nevada. So, in 2017, this company tested the chassis for the XP-1 transport capsule in a DevLoop tunnel in Nevada. Engineers were able to achieve controlled movement and vehicle levitation in a vacuum .

The company built a test tunnel with a length of half a kilometer, and pumped air out of it, reducing the pressure to 5 Pa. Thus, the chassis moved in a technical vacuum. In principle, the characteristics of the tunnel can accelerate the capsule up to 400 km / h, but during the test, the vehicle speed reached only 112 km / h. The tests were considered successful.

XP-1 capsule

At the moment, Hyperloop One has attracted more than $ 92 million of investment, the leadership of the startup is negotiating the construction of transport tunnels in the UAE, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and more than ten US regions.

In addition to Hyperloop One, there are two other companies that are also successful, although they are much smaller. We are talking about Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (plans to build tunnels in Slovakia and South Korea), as well as the company Arrivo, it was founded by former chief engineer of Hyperloop One Brogan Bemb Brogan . BamBrogan, by the way, founded his own company after he broke up with Pishevar, which resulted in several lawsuits in a row.

Pishevar has already managed to comment on Mask’s decision to also enter the Hyperloop market: “This will attract a lot of clear minds and attention from many people, which will allow the project to develop.”

What is Mask going to do?

So far it is not completely clear exactly how Musk sees his participation in the creation of a new type of vehicle. Perhaps he will join forces with Pisevar. After all, he is on friendly terms with him. For example, in 2013, Pishevar and Musk rested in Cuba.

But Musk did say that he wanted to build his own Hyperloop, and not take advantage of someone else's work.

The real state of things

Anyway, the construction of a real Hyperloop highway, no matter who started building it, is a matter for the future. Now this project is only in its infancy. Yes, there are test tracks, but the implementation of a full-scale project has not yet begun. The possible rivalry of all companies that are going to implement the concept underlying Hyperloop is an attempt to divide the skin of an unkilled bear.

Musk, however, posted an interesting statement on "We are interested in the further development of the functional Hyperloop prototype." True, this statement goes against another made by Musk earlier this year: "We are not developing a commercial Hyperloop prototype on our own."

In general, in order to understand what is actually happening, you may have to wait. But in any case, Musk by its actions can spur companies that are engaged in the development of Hyperloop to work more actively.


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