Could a billionaire entrepreneur who's already reimagined cars and rockets also revolutionize rail travel?
Elon Musk raised a lot of eyebrows on Thursday with his tweets about Hyperloop, a system that could transport people at the speed of sound using a pod in a large pneumatic tube. It's a system similar to what you see at the bank drive-thru.
Musk said he received "verbal government approval" to build an underground Hyperloop that would go from New York City to Washington D.C. in 29 minutes.
One of his followers from Texas asked if the Lone Star State could have one too, and he said, "for sure."
Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2017
Can Texas haz hyper loop too? Dallas - Houston - San Antonio - Austin (a girl can dream...)— rebecca (@curiousworlds) July 20, 2017
For sure. First set of tunnels are to alleviate greater LA urban congestion. Will start NY-DC in parallel. Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2017
So how feasible is a project like this in Texas? We asked the experts.
The University of Texas has two competition-level Hyperloop teams.
The advisor for one of the teams, Texas Guadaloop, says there are still some issues that need to be ironed out, including how to make the amount of pressure needed to move the pods safe for humans and how to make it as cost effective as regular trains.
Dr. Christian Claudel is an Assistant Professor of Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas. He said
"Just because we know how to make things work, it doesn't mean we can make it work very easily. It would be like going to the moon in the 1960s. Even in the early 1960s people knew they had the proper technology on paper to make it work, however, making it work is another story," explained Dr. Christian Claudel, an Assistant Professor of Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas.
Musk asked followers to let their local politicians know if they want to make it happen
Rep. Joaquin Castro from San Antonio jumped right into the conversation.
If you want this to happen fast, please let your local & federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2017
Build it in Texas. https://t.co/zJPRniy5D2— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 20, 2017
Dr. Claudel estimates it will take more than a decade to really get things rolling with Hyperloop.