More Hype on Hyperloop

LA Times' technology blogger Jon Healy takes a look at Elon Musk's Hyperloop, and after careful analysis, decides he'd bet on a proven, high-speed technology - the same one that inspired Musk to do an all-nighter to draft plans for an alternative.
August 16, 2013, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Healy admits to "rooting for [Elon Musk] on this one. He is, after all, one of the most constructively disruptive entrepreneurs of our time, having founded or co-founded revolutionary approaches to online payments (PayPal), space transportation (SpaceX) and the auto industry (Tesla Motors)." [He also could have added SolarCity].

Yet if I had to pick a horse in this race, I'd bet on California finishing the oft-delayed high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco before a single section of Hyperloop gets built.

Healy concludes that "(t)he best way to gauge how accurate his calculations are is to seek bidders for a real-world prototype. And for now, at least, Hyperloop is nowhere close to the real world." But, on a positive note, he adds that "it is closer than teleportation".

Readers of Scientific American might just be inspired to work on (if not bid) on such a prototype. Online associate editor for environment and energy, David Biello, calls the draft "a clever kludge of ideas that have been floating around since the 19th century—all designed to take people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes."

Well, maybe not. In her August 14 blog, “Hyperloop”: Not Quite Shovel-Ready, Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt notes that "(n)etwork blogger James Sinclair at Stop and Move, ("Hyperloop proposal: Bad joke or attempt to sabotage California HSR project?"), points out that the Hyperloop — widely reported as a 30-minute connection between San Francisco and L.A. — wouldn’t come close to one city. It would terminate in Sylmar, about an hour’s Metrolink ride from L.A. That wasn’t the only problem. The plan includes no actual solution for spanning the San Francisco Bay, Sinclair writes." 

Yet even stalwart proponents of the embattled California High Speed Rail project find good things to say about Musk's proposal. After pointing out numerous flaws in the draft, California High Speed Rail Blogger Robert Cruickshank writes "that's not to say the Hyperloop shouldn’t be explored or even built. I didn’t like it when critics attacked HSR merely because it was new to California and I won’t attack the Hyperloop, even if its cost assumptions are not realistic."

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Published on Thursday, August 15, 2013 in Los Angeles Times - Opinion
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