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Old 08-12-2013, 11:08 PM   #21
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A freight only prototype is actually a great idea. Maybe something to move mail from various post offices in LA to LAX.
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:15 PM   #22
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Can you really get a truckload of stuff delivered from Chicago to St. Louis for $300? That seems really cheap to me.
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Old 08-12-2013, 11:26 PM   #23
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I hope none of you ERs squander your life savings on this scheme!
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:37 AM   #24
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I hope none of you ERs squander your life savings on this scheme!
Given Elon's track record I think there are far worse investments.
Solarcity went public at $8 last year and is now trading at $38.41
Tesla went public at 17 in 2010 and is now at $148
SpaceX isn't public but I'm sure early investors would have have made many times their investment.
Paypal also was a homerun for early investors.

Frankly this seems less challenging to build than a private spaceship, much less a mission to Mars and no more fool hardy than an electric car.

I'd agree that odds that this gets built are small, but if Elon gets really behind it I wouldn't bet against the guy.
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:24 AM   #25
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The concept is very similar to high speed chair lifts/gondolas at our ski areas. The chair/gondola gets off of the high speed cable at the beginning and the end and at the ends is at a speed where passengers can safely embark and disembark. Once the passengers are loaded, the chair/gondola then attaches to the high speed cable to whisks you to the other end.

The news account I saw mentioned a cost of $6 billion. It seemed pretty cheap to me.

What would be the cat's meow is if you could drive your personal car into this thing and then get zipped to your destination at high speed and then drive your car back on the street to your ultimate destination (or to another hyperlink like making a connection between airport hubs).
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:25 AM   #26
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What would be the cat's meow is if you could drive your personal car into this thing and then get zipped to your destination at high speed and then drive your car back on the street to your ultimate destination (or to another hyperlink like making a connection between airport hubs).
There is a more expensive version of his proposal which does just that it allows up to 3 full size (Tesla Model S) cars to loaded into pods and the sent through the tube to their final destination. He talks about $20 ticket price for individuals so I assume the cost for vehicle would be roughly $200 for a vehicle certainly more expensive than driving, but on a portal to portal basis much faster than any other mode of transportation.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:31 AM   #27
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Just as Musk concedes that his concept is useless for trans-continental service (because supersonic flights are greatly more efficient, and allow flexibility to ANY city), freight may not work that well with the tube concept. ....
Thanks, some very good observations.

But I would still think there must be some niche application that would make a good beta site. Even if it wasn't economically justified, it could be considered the cost of doing business, just like building prototypes are always a development cost.

As clifp says, maybe between mail centers at an airport, or between mail centers of a major city? I'm thinking something only ~ ten miles, maybe shorter? The smaller pods would accelerate quicker, so it would somewhat scale.

But maybe moving freight just does not have enough margin compared to what can be charged to move people to justify the unique infrastructure?

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Old 08-13-2013, 08:45 AM   #28
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Q: Did they dig the 'Chunnel" wide enough to support a couple of these tubes? Seems like that would be a good test bed?

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Old 08-13-2013, 08:49 AM   #29
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I first read about this "mail tube" concept many years ago in the early 80s after the energy crisis, in IEEE Spectrum.

It was proposed as an ambitious coast-to-coast system. I remember that they envisioned evacuating the tube to reduce air friction. I do not remember any cost being mentioned.

Conceptually, it is all simple. I would like to see someone working out all the details of implementation, with all the safeguards against failures. Just something as simple as an oil pipeline, and we already have all kinds of trouble just pumping crude around.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:14 AM   #30
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I hope none of you ERs squander your life savings on this scheme!
Lots of people have lost lots of money betting against Elon Musk.
However, I would hope that no one ever puts all their investments in any single equity.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:28 AM   #31
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I would think some type of small scale system would be necessary to get the approval to build one that stretches from the City of the Angels to 'frisco. Moving people quickly between downtown and an airport on the fringes of a city would be one. Or moving freight from a RR site or shipping port to an airport would be another.

Mr. Musk has made it quite clear he will not spearhead this thing. Apparently, after running a rocket company and an electric car company he needs to have some time for his kids. It's good he recognizes the need for some balance in his life. Better to do two things spectacularly well, than three things in a mediocre way.

Perhaps the most interesting from a long term perspective is his using the open-source concept in the design process. Open source has worked rather well in the computer software world (Linux being one example). If this success can be extended to large physical devices and systems, that might be the most signifiant development.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:43 AM   #32
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There is a more expensive version of his proposal which does just that it allows up to 3 full size (Tesla Model S) cars to loaded into pods and the sent through the tube to their final destination. He talks about $20 ticket price for individuals so I assume the cost for vehicle would be roughly $200 for a vehicle certainly more expensive than driving, but on a portal to portal basis much faster than any other mode of transportation.
True, but if it was $200 for a vehicle it would more expensive than driving but much less expensive than flying if you have multiple passengers in the vehicle. I think that flying is a more appropriate comparison given its time saving attributes.

If it ever came to pass it opens up a whole world of possibilities. It would be very feasible to live in LA and work in NY (or vice versa) and even commute daily. Wouldn't that be a hoot!
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Old 08-13-2013, 10:50 AM   #33
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What would be the cat's meow is if you could drive your personal car into this thing and then get zipped to your destination at high speed and then drive your car back on the street to your ultimate destination (or to another hyperlink like making a connection between airport hubs).
That would be kinda cool. It might work for electric cars or possibly those with a diesel engine, but gasoline, with it's very low flashpoint, is not a good candidate for transport in an enclosed space like this.
Logistically, it is a little whacky to transport our 3000 lb cars hundreds of miles when we could just rent a car when when we get where we're going. But the economics (high cost of car rentals) and convenience factors just might make it worthwhile.

About that $20 ticket price--logical? They could charge $200 and get all the present air traffic and a big chunk of the (small) car and train traffic between LA and SF. The only reason to go lower is to generate additional new market--people who wouldn't have traveled the route at all, but will do it if the prices are lower. That sounds like commuters exploiting new living/workplace combinations.
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:53 PM   #34
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Perhaps they could vent the pod if it contained a gasoline car like we run a blower to vent possible gas fumes in inboard/outboard boats. Beyond my expertise.
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:06 PM   #35
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My memory can be so good, it scares me!

Here's a recent article in IEEE Spectrum about Musk's proposal. Excerpt follows.
By saying that the Hyperloop would use only partially depressurized tubes, he ended speculation that it would achieve a complete vacuum to utterly eliminate air resistance. Such a design, which can attain an efficiency of acceleration now possible only in space craft, was worked out by the Rand Corp. back in the 1970s. As stated in an earlier IEEE Spectrum article, the Rand plan would get a traveler between any pair of major cities in the northern hemisphere within 90 minutes.

That earlier IEEE article referenced was published in 1984. That was roughly what I recalled in the earlier post.

See: Elon Musk's Tubular Vision - IEEE Spectrum.
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:29 PM   #36
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:11 PM   #37
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My memory can be so good, it scares me!

Here's a recent article in IEEE Spectrum about Musk's proposal. Excerpt follows.
By saying that the Hyperloop would use only partially depressurized tubes, he ended speculation that it would achieve a complete vacuum to utterly eliminate air resistance. ...
I have not found a definition for "complete vacuum". And even space is not a 'perfect vacuum'. The write-up from Musk mentions 100 pascals, which is about 1/1000th of an atmosphere. Wiki calls this a 'medium vacuum'. Anything further requires more complicated pumps.

Quote:
Medium vacuum is vacuum that can be achieved with a single pump, but the pressure is too low to measure with a liquid or mechanical manometer.
But I guess since air resistance is significant at the higher end of automobile speeds, it is a very big deal at near sonic speeds. So even eliminating 999/1000ths of it, the drag is still large enough that eliminating 999.5/1000ths of would help. Like all engineering, it's a trade-off between the advantages of lower pressure and the cost to support that lower pressure.

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Old 08-13-2013, 05:06 PM   #38
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Perhaps they could vent the pod if it contained a gasoline car like we run a blower to vent possible gas fumes in inboard/outboard boats. Beyond my expertise.
Easier to limit it to electric cars only
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:25 PM   #39
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I don't know we put cars with gasoline on ferries and even hover craft all the time.
Not sure why having them in a low oxygen environment would particularly dangerous.
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:38 PM   #40
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OK read it all (the last section was just maps of proposed routes, skimmed). Fascinating, but I can't imagine going on with this until some smaller test systems were put in place.
...

But it is fascinating how much modeling can be done by computer these days. You can 'virtually' build a system with no physical construction at all.

-ERD50
I skimmed through the pdf file. It provided some calculations to show the feasibility of the proposal, but an actual design will bring to light a lot more complications.

I have to admit I am not too excited about this. It would be of more interest to me if an EV with a range of say 100 to 200 mi can be built and sold for $20K, to allow it to compete in price with conventional cars. That would open up the solar power generation industry, reduce pollution in crowded cities, and extend our petroleum reserves for other uses rather than to blow it out the car tail pipes.

I guess that as I get older, I care more about economic and practical aspects of new developments than for the wow factors of projects such as Mars exploration, the supercollider, etc...
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