Here's a Glimpse at What the Hyperloop Might Actually be Like

By Alissa Walker on at

What we know about the Hyperloop thus far can be summed up in a few exclamatory phrases: It’s visionary! It’s crazy! It’s impossible! But we haven’t really understood much about how Elon Musk’s totally tubular transportation system might actually work—until now.

These Hyperloop imaginings come to us as the final project of Suprastudio, a masters-level studio at UCLA’s architecture school, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a startup based in Downtown Los Angeles, which isn’t technically related to Tesla or Space X because Musk said, hey world, here’s an idea, run with it people, I have to go work on batteries and getting to Mars.

A document was released by the school this week to coincide with end-of-term presentations. And in addition to some pretty renderings, there is some very good thinking here (and, regrettably, some typos).

The research includes some historical food for thought like comparing travel times before and after revolutionary transportation infrastructure like the Transcontinental Railroad and the Panama Canal. Then, to decide which cities might get Hyperloop priority, 50 US metropolitan areas were ranked by criteria like population, jobs, existing public transport, freight needs, etc. A variety of strategies are proposed, from connecting cities into giant mega-regions to focusing first on capturing tourism dollars. One proposed alignment travels the route of the proposed California high-speed rail network, with a spur off to Las Vegas.

There’s an idea for Urban Loops, which would travel within cities like underground systems do. And, since these are architects, they’ve given some real thought to the design of the stations and “capsules” travellers will ride in. They even tried to tackle the loading and unloading of passengers, something that trains or airplanes probably will never nail.

Here are some images that caught my eye; only low-res imagery is available at the moment so they’re a bit fuzzy. But, like I said, smart and engaging. I’d ride this thing.

LA to NY in about 2 hours 45 minutes, compared to 6.5+ flying

50 metropolitan areas ranked by nine criteria for Hyperloop-readiness

A comparison of how far from LA’s Union Station one can get in 30 minutes before and after Hyperloop

Proposed route alignment from Anaheim to San Francisco, with a spur to Las Vegas

Structural diagram for the tube itself

Demonstrating the tubes multifunctional uses

Images of the tube traversing the desert between LA and Las Vegas

Integration with subway-like Urban Loops found in cities

A boarding strategy includes seats that slide in when the capsule is ready to leave

Instead of windows, passengers are treated to VR experiences

Read through the entire document and see if you find any more gems I missed.

[Suprastudio via Curbed LA]