Posts tagged with "Hyperloop":

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The Boring Company completes its first tunnel as Elon Musk sells bricks

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has completed its first tunnel, breaking through the other side of a 2-mile-long test track that began in the parking lot of Space X’s Hawthorne, Los Angeles, headquarters. Musk took to Twitter and posted a video of their tunnel boring machine breaking through the track’s final wall in what will eventually become the “O'Leary Station” for a Hyperloop network, though as Arstechnica notes, the location isn’t exactly where the Boring Company had received approval to build a station. Now that the tunnel is complete, the L.A.–Hawthorne tunnel is on track for its December 10 opening date. Although Musk originally envisioned a Hyperloop-style system that would ferry cars under Los Angeles’s traffic-congested highways at 155 miles-per-hour, he later pivoted toward accommodating bikes, buses, and pedestrian traffic as well. This is the same style of system that the Boring Company was selected to build in Chicago to connect O’Hare and the Loop—though that deal is currently facing an injunction from the nonprofit Better Government Association. But what about the refuse that the Boring Company has excavated? Musk first proposed converting tunnel waste into bricks that could be used for affordable housing back in May, claiming that the stone they were mining was “seismically rated” in California. Then, in September, Musk promised that a “Boring Brick store” would be opening in two months and selling bricks for 10 cents each. Now, it looks like Musk is following through with his promise and has founded The Brick Store LLC. From public documents submitted in October, the Brick Store will open at 12003 Prairie Avenue in Hawthorne, only a mile from the Space X headquarters (and aforementioned Hyperloop tunnel). While it’s uncertain exactly how many bricks the Brick Store will be able to offer, Musk has promised that he’ll give them away for free to affordable housing projects. Before the tunnel officially opens next month, the Boring Company will need to extricate their tunnel boring machine using the access shaft and clean up the rubble left behind. Musk claims that the Boring Company will eventually dig tunnels all the way to residents’ private garages.
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Virgin Hyperloop One hits major bumps in the wake of Saudi controversy

One of the world’s most dogged transportation professionals—and former head of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)—will now head up Virgin’s venture into high-speed rail service. The Verge reported that Jay Walder has left his role as CEO of bike-sharing company, Motivate, in order to lead Los Angeles–based Virgin Hyperloop One, which appears to be in financial trouble after it publicly laid off 40 staff members yesterday. Walder will replace Rob Lloyd, who ran the young company for three years but stepped down for undisclosed reasons. After serving stints in both Hong Kong and London, helping both growing cities overhaul their mass transit systems, Walder comes to Virgin Hyperloop One with serious street cred that largely centers around the financial and physical success at his previous jobs. In his latest position, he led Motivate through a massive upswing, improving and expanding New York's Citi Bike and similar programs across the county. Motivate was acquired by Lyft this summer. During his tenure at the MTA, Walder instigated technological advancements and tried to pull the organization out of its never-ending financial troubles, despite his rocky time there. The news of Walder’s appointment comes as the transportation technology startup aims to spur more investment and build its first fully operational high-speed rail in India. The planned route will take people from Mumbai to Pune in just 25 minutes. Last month, Saudi Arabia nixed a deal to construct a hyperloop in that country after former chairman Richard Branson criticized the kingdom’s alleged killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis announced a $1 billion investment in Virgin Galactic, another venture by Branson, after Branson stepped down as the chairman at Hyperloop. While Hyperloop’s former chief executive Lloyd hasn’t explicitly named the controversy as his main reason for leaving the company, he did refuse to attend Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Future Investment Initiative conference late last month where the organization planned to make the hyperloop deal official. There they aimed to begin conducting a feasibility study on “the Vision 2030 Hyperloop Pod,” which Lloyd and his team unveiled last April. With Branson and Lloyd gone, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stepped in as the new chairman. His company, DP World, a UAE-based shipping and logistics group, is now Virgin Hyperloop One’s largest investor. Virgin Hyperloop One is currently testing its latest technology at a site in Nevada’s Mojave Desert and aims to begin construction on a six-mile test segment in India in 2019. It's working on a feasibility study for a Missouri track as well. Because of Walder’s track record of bringing struggling transit organizations into the 21st century and creating financial gains for giants like Motivate, many think his “real world” knowledge will bring tangible momentum to the futuristic Virgin Hyperloop One.
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Elon Musk promises first high-speed L.A. tunnel will open in December

Elon Musk has continued his streak of sharing big news via Twitter: on Sunday, he announced that the Boring Company's first Los Angeles tunnel would open on December 10 and offer free rides to the public the following day. The 2-mile tunnel was carved out under Musk's Space X headquarters in Hawthorne and follows 120th Street, and is a test run for what Musk hopes will be a tunnel network that runs underneath the entire city. The high-speed system, which Musk tweeted would run at 155 mph, was originally intended for private cars but will now be designated for public transit, pedestrians, and cyclists. This is not the only tunnel that the Boring Company has undertaken in L.A.—another 2.7-mile route is being dug under Sepulveda Boulevard, which bypassed California's strict environmental review process—but this would be the first tunnel that to be completed. Musk also proposed a 3.6-mile-long "Dugout Loop" that would take riders from Los Feliz or East Hollywood to the Dodger Stadium in four minutes, for which the company held a sparsely attended public hearing in August. Of course, beyond Musk's company's ability to deliver on his grand promises, the feasibility of the Loop system proposed by Musk will be dependent on passing the state's environmental review and other approval processes. The Sepulveda-adjacent tunnel also faced community opposition, with officials in Culver City also considering a legal challenge. Will Musk's eventful summer be capped by the successful opening of a tunnel that improves Los Angeles commutes? Only time will tell.
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UNStudio unveils flexible hyperloop hub designs for Europe

UNStudio recently unveiled plans for a series of flexible and modular “Stations of the Future” that would service a massive hyperloop railway network throughout Europe. The Dutch architecture firm, founded by Ben van Berkel, proposed a concept station made from “tessellating” modules that can flex, adapt, and expand to fit into various locations, such as a crowded city center, the edge of a town, or the inside of an existing airport. Stations have open and flexible layouts, and they can greatly differ in size. This makes it easier for the hyperloop system to provide each city with access to a mode of transportation that can travel at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour. According to UNStudio, the gentle curves necessary to accommodate the vast speed of the hyperloop vehicles would give the buildings “an inviting organic form to soften the geometry of the module." In addition to the adaptable platforms and semi-transparent, curvilinear roofs, each station’s public level would contain luggage check-in modules, bicycle docks, daycare centers, and pocket parks. “Existing cities mean existing parameters, and UNStudio envisages a symbiotic relationship with its local environment: an integrated piece of an urban composition,” said the studio. One proposed hyperloop line would run from Amsterdam to Frankfurt in 53 minutes, surpassing airplanes that typically take over an hour to travel between the two destinations. Using solar-powered technology, the hyperloop would produce no sound or environmental emissions and could harness enough energy to power not only itself but also surrounding public amenities and modes of transportation. The firm has extensive experience designing rail stations, including the Arnhem Central Station in the Netherlands and the forthcoming Qatar Integrated Railway Project. UNStudio designed the station for HyperSummit, which took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and was organized by Hardt Hyperloop, a European technology and transportation company that seeks to revolutionize modern travel.
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Catch up on Elon Musk’s summer rollercoaster ride

Elon Musk has had a summer of ups and downs in 2018, even after putting aside all of the twists-and-turns of his personal life and turmoil at Tesla. In May, Musk announced that The Boring Company would be turning its excavated dirt and rock into bricks for low-cost housing. What started as an attempt to sell more Boring Company merchandise ala their flamethrower—in this case, “giant Lego bricks”—soon morphed into an unspecified commitment on Musk’s part to build future Boring Company offices from muck bricks. Future Hyperloop tunnels might be able to swap out concrete for the seismically-rated bricks, but they’re unlikely to lower affordable housing costs much; land and labor are the most expensive aspects of new construction. While The Boring Company hasn’t actually constructed much except for a short test tunnel in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, Musk scored a win when the City of Chicago chose the company to build a high-speed train route connecting the city's Loop to O’Hare International Airport. Or did they? After a lawsuit was filed against the city in mid-August by the Better Government Association (BGA), the city claimed that the plan was still “pre-decisional” and that no formal agreement had been struck yet. If the loop is ever built, The Boring Company would dig two tunnels under the city and connect Block 37 in the Loop to O’Hare. Electrically-driven pods, with capacity for up to 16 passengers, would arrive at a station every 30 seconds and complete a one-way trip in 12 minutes. There are still major concerns over the project’s feasibility and cost, as Musk had pledged that construction would take only one year if the company used currently non-existent (and unproven) tunneling technology. The project could cost up to $1 billion, which The Boring Company would pay for out of pocket and recoup by selling $20 to $25 tickets, advertising space, and merchandise. On Tesla’s end, problems with the company’s much-vaunted solar roof tiles have bubbled over. Production has slowed at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, as equipment problems and aesthetic issues have prevented the factory from rolling out tiles on a large scale. Tesla is pledging that they can ramp up production at the state-owned factory by the end of 2018, as the company tries to fulfill the $1,000 preorders placed after the tiles’ reveal nearly two years ago. Not to let the end of summer slip by without one last announcement, Musk took to Twitter to release a Boring Company proposal for an underground “Dugout Loop” in L.A. Several conceptual designs were included for different routes between the Red Line subway and Dodgers Stadium that would use technology similar to what Musk has proposed in Chicago to ferry passengers along the 3.6-mile-long trip in only four minutes. It’s unlikely that the Dugout Loop will come to pass, as L.A. is already looking to realize a $125 million gondola system that could carry up to 5,000 passengers an hour. What the fall will bring for Musk, we can only guess.
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Boring Company unveils Hyperloop route for L.A.’s Dodger Stadium

The Boring Company has released yet another underground transit proposal for Los Angeles.  Wednesday night, embattled Boring Company CEO Elon Musk announced the so-called Dugout Loop, a proposed “zero-emissions, high-speed, underground public transportation system” that could potentially ferry passengers between the Red Line subway and Dodgers Stadium. The company released a series of possible proposals, with variations on route length and station origination point.  The ultimate aim of the proposal is to improve travel times between the East Hollywood, Los Feliz, and Rampart Village neighborhoods and the stadium, which is roughly 3.6-miles away. Boring Company estimates that the proposed loop would be able to complete a one-way trip in roughly four minutes and carry between 1,400 and 2,800 passengers per day, roughly the same number as are currently transported by the express Metro buses that currently operate between the stadium and Union Station using dedicated bus lanes. Here’s the hitch: Unlike conventional transportation systems that convey passengers in both directions simultaneously, Musk’s link would only be able to operate in one direction at a time. The limiting arrangement is a result of the small diameter tunnel that is being proposed for the route, similar to that of other Boring Company tunnels proposed for western Los Angeles and Chicago. The proposal comes after a week of questionable business decisions and erratic tweetstorms from Musk, and as L.A.’s Metro makes plans to embrace a proposed $125 million gondola system connecting the Union Station in Downtown L.A. with the stadium. Backers for the gondola plan include former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt; Estimates for the transit link indicate the gondolas could ferry as many as 5,000 passengers per hour, with traffic moving in both directions simultaneously.  Musk recently drew criticism and accusations of project “segmenting” for bypassing environmental review as the Boring Company attempts to move forward with a portion of a proposed Hyperloop route through L.A.’s Westside neighborhoods. Neighborhood groups outraged by the effort successfully sued to block the project.  The proposal also comes as the Boring Company faces legal challenges for a similarly-vague proposal issued for Chicago that would link the city with O’Hare Airport. 
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Elon Musk’s Chicago tunnel targeted by a new lawsuit

Elon Musk’s plans to build an underground express system for Chicago are super vague and people are mad about it. The Illinois-based Better Government Association (BGA) announced in a report yesterday that it’s filed a lawsuit against the city to release public records behind its $1 billion deal with the Tesla CEO. In June, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Musk unveiled their grand vision to create a tunnel that would allow commuters to traverse 15 miles from the Loop in downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport in just 12 minutes. Musk promised to use untested digging equipment to build it and to introduce the new electric rail system in as little as 18 months. But that’s pretty much all that's been publicly revealed about it. The BGA argued that the secrecy behind the proposal’s logistics goes against the statutes of public policy that require such developments to solve clear problems in a clear way before receiving approval or funding. The watchdog organization reached out to the Emanuel administration to obtain public records detailing the meetings between the mayor and Musk, but the city simply claimed the initial discussions on the project were “pre-decisional.” This means no firm deal has been struck between the two parties even though the plan went public this summer. The BGA also pointed out that Musk has already completed a short tunnel project beneath Los Angeles’s Hawthorne neighborhood, but used conventional sewer drilling technology to make it, not the as-promised, untested tech. Musk claims that he can begin construction on the Chicago tunnel by the end of this year and complete it quickly thanks to the new (non-existent) digging equipment. But the head of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, which green-lighted the project according to the BGA, said a more realistic construction time is four years. Even so, major infrastructure projects generally take a decade or more to finish (see: New York’s Second Avenue Subway) and Chicago has already spent over $250 million under former Mayor Richard M. Daley on a failed plan to complete an underground superstation on the way to the airport. Improving upon the 45-minute commute via rail from the Loop to O’Hare is a top priority for the city, but no real plans from Musk or the mayor have been outlined as of late for locals to review. If the BGA’s lawsuit moves forward, Chicagoans could get a peek at the plans sooner rather than later.
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Texas’s $15 billion Bullet Train on track to roll out next year

It’s no hyperloop, but construction of a 200-mile-per-hour bullet train from Houston to Dallas could begin as early as next year. Add in the recently announced Amtrak partnership that will cover last-mile trips and tie into the rail company’s established interstate network, and Texas is looking at a major mass transit expansion. Developers Texas Central Partners (TCP) will be privately financing the $15 billion, 240-mile-long high-speed rail line, and have been on a public outreach spree as they attempt to drum up support and garner feedback for their proposal. TCP argues that the Texas Bullet Train will bring in $3 billion in state and local tax revenue through 2040, in addition to the $36 billion in direct spending; not to mention the tens of thousands of projected construction jobs. TCP is still hashing out the exact station locations but are planning on building the 60-acre Dallas stop south of the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, with a footbridge from the station to the convention center. On the other side of the 90-minute trip in Houston, TCP has chosen the city’s Northwest Mall as the preferred location for their station. The mall site will give way to a 45-acre, multi-level train complex with easy access to I-610 and U.S. 290. Additional stops between the two cities, such as in the city of Byran/College Station, have already been confirmed. Still, not everyone is on board with the rail plan, and landowners along the proposed route have fought and lobbied their state legislators over the company possible use of eminent domain to acquire their property. TCP has outlined their process for picking up the required properties, including offering market value for parcels in the Bullet Train’s path and pledging to minimize the impact on landowners. That hasn’t stopped the opposition from filing a flurry of bullet train bills in the state Senate, though only two of the proposed twenty measures managed to pass. As a result the state will not use taxpayer fund for the project, a move that TCP did not oppose. The free-market funding requirement hasn’t slowed the Bullet Train's progress down, and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), a subsection of the United States Department of Transportation, has given the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) the green light. The FRA also proposed an optimal route that would disrupt the least amount of people, and engineering and construction firms WSP, Fluor, Bechtel, and Lane Construction are now all helping to lay the groundwork for the project’s eventual construction. The Amtrak tie-in certainly won’t hurt the project’s chances, but high-speed rail remains notoriously expensive. Although high-speed rail has historically floundered in the U.S., such as the $77 billion north-south bullet train currently under construction in California, TCP's business plan, and the use of private funds, combined with the high level of government support, has helped the project avoid the hurdles plaguing similar projects. "We are working on the train every day," said TCP spokesperson Holly Reed. "This is the right project being done the right way at the right time -  the Texas Way. That means it will be the safest way to travel in the world, built and operated based on data-driven decisions from free market principles and no state appropriations. Texas is proving again to be a leader in transportation, and the train is a key tool in the state’s infrastructure toolbox as a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly option that efficiently will move our growing population."
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Elon Musk wants to turn the Hyperloop’s “excavated muck” into housing materials

Hot off of a flamethrower fundraising sale for Elon Musk’s side project, the Hyperloop tunnel digging The Boring Company, Musk has announced that the muck, rock, and detritus produced by the company’s tunneling would be turned into usable bricks. The first announcement from Musk came on March 26, when he tweeted that the rock mined from the company’s California test tunnels would be turned into “Lifesize LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures & buildings.” The bricks would be sold as The Boring Company merchandise and are supposedly rated for California’s seismic loads. Responding to critics on Twitter who were wondering why the tech entrepreneur wasn’t using his vast wealth to address the nationwide housing crisis, Musk followed up on May 7, indicating that those same bricks would now be sold on the cheap for low-cost housing. A Boring Company representative confirmed the plans to Bloomberg, saying that the bricks used for housing would be made from the “excavated muck” of the company’s tunnels. These bricks would also go towards building any future Boring Company offices and could partially replace concrete in The Boring Company’s tunnels. Of course, as Bloomberg points out, Musk’s plan to lower the cost of housing assumes that material costs are driving the price of construction, and not land or labor. Brick is expensive to lay because of the associated time and expertise it takes, not the bricks themselves (and this is before factoring in any type of structural reinforcement). It remains to be seen if The Boring Company can produce enough blocks to actually build any homes, especially as many of the prospective Hyperloop tunnels would be churning out dirt contaminated from years of industrial runoff.
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Foster + Partners teams up with Virgin Hyperloop One for blazing fast freight proposal

British studio Foster + Partners has released a proposal for a futuristic hyperloop freight system that could one day ship cargo from Dubai to Asia and Europe. The renderings and accompanying video were produced in collaboration with Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One, and the resultant system has been christened DP World Cargospeed. Cargo would be autonomously loaded into autonomously driven pods that appear to closely resemble the passenger pods Virgin revealed in February, and accelerated up to 700 miles per hour using hyperloop technology. The electrically-powered pods are moved through tunnels that have had the air pumped out, removing any wind resistance. From the video, it seems that Foster + Partners is aiming for an integrated, multi-modal shipping solution. Cargo is unloaded portside and brought into the nearby hyperloop loading area, while trucks, autonomous shuttles, and drones are could be potentially used to handle last-mile delivery. Everything feeds into an electric ecosystem, with solar panels on the hyperloop’s tunnels (and station) feeding the movement below. The shipping program would be an outgrowth of Virgin’s partnership with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, and the 75-mile-long Dubai-Abu Dhabi hyperloop stretch could be online as soon as 2020. BIG’s concentric transport hubs, one in each city, will eventually anchor the route and house autonomous Virgin shuttles. While DP World Cargospeed is currently nothing more than a few polished images, with Virgin preparing to lay hyperloop tubes in India, a cross-continental shipping network that latches on to the commuter system could eventually be in the cards. As the video’s narrator describes it, DP World Cargospeed would start off as a system for high-priority goods ordered on-demand, with the higher cost of shipping offsetting the higher infrastructure costs. Still, Virgin hopes that it can get the cost “as low as trucking, with the speed of air delivery”.
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Elon Musk to bypass environmental review for test tunnel in L.A.

Billionaire Elon Musk and his Boring Company are moving forward with plans to build an underground network of personal vehicle tunnels below the streets of Los Angeles.  After drilling a preliminary tunnel below the Tesla and SpaceX company headquarters in nearby Hawthorne, California, the company is now moving forward with an additional 2.7-mile “proof-of-concept” tunnel for a “zero-emissions, high-speed, underground, alternative means of transit for personal vehicles and/or single-rider use” that will run under Sepulveda Boulevard on L.A.’s Westside. The test tunnel will begin at 2352-2356 South Sepulveda Boulevard, a property owned by The Boring Company, Urbanize.LA reports. From there, it will run roughly 30-70 feet below ground to an area below the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard in Culver City. The tunnel will not daylight at this point, according to initial documentation.   The tunneling depth will allow the engineers to avoid underground utilities and other potential obstructions and is subject to change as conditions closer to the surface permit. Though the route has been vetted for the potential existence of archeological and paleontological materials, plans for independent monitors will be put in place should any sensitive resources be discovered over the course of work on the tunnel. In order to build the tunnel, The Boring Company has received a preliminary reprieve from California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) restrictions at the behest of the Los Angeles City Council, which will also take up the final approval for the concept on behalf of the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering if the test tunnels are successful. Further sections beyond the test tunnel will be subject to a variety of environmental and community reviews.  The test tunnels will not be available for public use and will be used solely for testing of a proposed “skate” technology that could eventually be used to ferry automobiles and passengers throughout the system.  The test tunnel is expected to be completed in nine months; a final timeline for approval and construction of a usable tunnel has not yet been released. 
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Elon Musk does a 180 on mass transit and makes Hyperloop buses his first priority

The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop tunnel-digging side company, may have a new mission after Musk claimed that he would be shifting towards expanding mass transit. Although research into digging a traffic-bypassing “urban loop” under Los Angeles will continue, Musk tweeted that instead of moving cars and personal pods, the Hyperloop network would focus on moving 150-mile-per-hour buses before anything else. The Hyperloop system has been proposed–though nothing has been built yet–as an underground transit network where small levitating pods would be accelerated up to hundreds of miles an hour through a vacuum to eliminate air resistance. Where the Hyperloop differs from high-speed rail is that Musk has proposed scattering Hyperloop entrances along connecting cities more akin to subway stops rather than train halls, and that it was more for “personal transit”. In a string of tweets last Friday, Musk appeared to change his tune, saying that, “Adjusting The Boring Company plan: all tunnels & Hyperloop will prioritize pedestrians & cyclists over cars.” He then explained that the tunnels “will still transport cars, but only after all personalized mass transit needs are met. It’s a matter of courtesy & fairness. If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first.” Musk also released a new video of the theoretical system in action, showing a bus-sized transit pod descending into a tunnel and reaching speeds up to 150 miles per hour. The move is a surprising one from Musk, who has publicly railed against mass transportation in the past. “It’s a pain in the ass,” Musk told the audience at a Tesla event in Long Beach, California last year. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.” It may also be a response to the extreme backlash the tech mogul received from transit planners and advocates afterwards, many of whom he got down in the dirt with and called “idiots”. While Musk’s fans applauded the decision, skeptics pointed out that repositioning the Hyperloop’s mission towards public transit garners the company good will from the municipalities that The Boring company needs permission from for the Hyperloop. Though Musk has promised that the D.C.-New York Hyperloop route would follow a similar model, actual construction on any network is years away, even if the project can gain the local and federal approvals needed.