The second round of the Hyperloop Global Challenge concluded last Wednesday, and Hyperloop One has compiled a map of the 11 proposed Hyperloops in the United States to show us just how connected we could be. The semifinalists’ proposals connect Las Vegas to Reno in 42 minutes and Denver to Boulder in five minutes, to name two examples. For those who don’t know, Hyperloop is a new kind of infrastructure currently in development that will “move people and things at airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket,” according to the Hyperloop One website. Using electric motors and low-pressure tubes, Hyperloop One hopes to shoot you across the country in levitated pods. If you think this model strongly resembles the pneumatic tubes used at bank drive-thru’s to deposit checks, then you are not alone.The hyperloop concept is efficient, environmentally friendly, and something out of your sci-fi dreams, but even more enticing is that it is actually happening. Hyperloop One has just completed installing a 500-meter-long prototype tube, called the DevLoop, on their property in the deserts of Las Vegas. It is the company’s first complete test track, but will not be the last. In the coming months, Hyperloop One will conduct their first trials of the complete pod-in-tube system before moving on to build other test centers in countries around the world. They believe they can be moving cargo in completed Hyperloops by 2020 and moving passengers by 2021. The Hyperloop Global Challenge will announce the teams moving on to the final round of competition in May. In the meantime, you can visit this poll to vote on which of the proposed routes will impact you the most.
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A proposal by a group of Woodbury University School of Architecture–affiliated architects has been named among one of the 35 semi-finalists for the Hyperloop One Global Challenge competition aimed at generating pilot projects to deploy the next-generation transportation technology. According to the Hyperloop One website, competition organizers were seeking to teams that would “put forward a comprehensive commercial, transport, economic, and policy case for their cities, regions, or countries to be considered to host the first hyperloop networks.” The Woodbury University team’s proposal—generated by a collective made up of Woodbury University adjunct faculty Rene Peralta, architect Alejandro Santander of Estudio Santander in Tijuana, Mexico, and Woodbury alumnus Juan Alatorre—aims to connect the Southern California region via Hyperloop. The team envisions utilizing the technology to cut travel times between Los Angeles and Ensenada, Mexico down to roughly 20 minutes. The trip currently takes about five hours to complete via automobile. The Woodbury University team will present their work in Washington, D.C. on April 5th as part of the second round of the competition. Teams that make it to the final round will be announced in May of this year. Hyperloop One has received 2,600 competition submissions in the five months since the competition was announced. Teams representing 17 countries are among the other groups vying for the winning proposal, including 11 teams from the United States, five teams from India, and four from the United Kingdom. Describing the submissions received for the competition, Rob Lloyd, CEO, Hyperloop One said, “The Hyperloop One Global Challenge unleashed ideas from some of the world’s most creative engineers and planners, who care as much as we do about the future of transportation.” Lloyd added that the potential for the technology went beyond fulfilling simple transportation needs, saying, “These are all solutions that can make a real and immediate social and economic impact.”
After teasing audiences with a 170-second-long video last month, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled further information on its collaboration with Elon Musk's Hyperloop One, a super high-speed transit network in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With expected travel times of just 12 minutes between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the route would slash current car journey times of two hours between the cities. It's a tantalizing prospect and BIG has been working on the project since May of this year. The firm has developed concepts for autonomous point-to-point travel including Hyperloop One's transport portals and pods while also working on a feasibility study financed by the Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA). The plan so far involves a pods—capable of carrying humans and freight—traveling in excess of 680 miles per hour through pressurized tubes that would stretch between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These pods will carry six people and would be part of a zero-emission electric propulsion system. Speed is also a concern relative to passenger circulation outside the pods. "All elements of the travel experience are designed to increase convenience and reduce interruptions," BIG said in a statement. "The main objective of the design is to eliminate waiting from the passenger experience." BIG's designs for the portals build on a study that looked at inter-city transport network integration with existing infrastructure and population density in the two cities. As a result, the firm's proposal involves easily identifiable departure gates that passengers can swiftly access. While pods may be small in size, BIG explained that their frequency rate of arrival and departure would cater to high demand. Pods would also be able to operate autonomously away from the pressurized tubes, meaning they could travel on regular roads. "Together with BIG, we have worked on a seamless experience that starts the moment you think about being somewhere—not going somewhere,” said Josh Giegel, president of engineering of Hyperloop One, in a press release. “We don’t sell cars, boats, trains, or planes. We sell time.” Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of BIG, added: “With Hyperloop One we have given form to a mobility ecosystem of pods and portals, where the waiting hall has vanished along with waiting itself. Hyperloop One combines collective commuting with individual freedom at near supersonic speed," he said. "We are heading for a future where our mental map of the city is completely reconfigured, as our habitual understanding of distance and proximity—time and space—is warped by this virgin form of travel.”
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has released a teaser video for Hyperloop One—the high-speed transportation system pioneered by Elon Musk, who is seeking to revolutionize modern transit. The plan is to shoot freight and passenger pods through a pressurized tube at speeds of more than 700 miles per hour using a zero-emission electric propulsion system, which, according to Rolling Stone, could result in a travel time of about 30 minutes from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The video reveals the first hyperloop links in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and features Jakob Lange, BIG partner and director of BIG Ideas, the experimental incubator that creates prototypes and products for their portfolio projects. (See our interview with Lange). BIG Ideas is responsible for helping envision the Hyperloop and designing adaptability into its initial pods and pressurized tubes. Hyperloop One announced that Bjarke Ingels Group would join them as an architectural partner in the same week as it passed its first, open-air test of their electric propulsion technology in the Mojave Desert back in May 2016 (that test reached speeds of 116 miles per hour). Engineering firms AECOM and Arup have also been named as partners to realize the advanced technology as infrastructure. The video above reveals planned Hyperloop connections between Abu Dhabi Airport and Dubai Airport, among other locations in the UAE. Hyperloop One’s chief executive Rob Lloyd told The New York Times that he is most proud of the speed at which the technology is being developed, saying that Hyperloop “will do to the physical world what the Internet did to the digital one.” The company recently raised another $50 million needed to complete another prototype, bringing its total funding for research and development to $160 million. The company also named Brent Callinicos as its chief financial advisor to guide its funding needs. Callinicos joins Hyperloop after working as a treasurer at Google, and most recently as Uber’s chief financial officer.
While California's High Speed Rail system broke ground last month in California, Elon Musk's dream of a Hyperloop, a rocket-propelled system that would shuttle passengers (and/or freight) across the state (and perhaps the country) in minutes, not hours, is making surprising progress, with new teams, and visions emerging. According to Gizmag, an LA-based startup called Hyperloop Technologies has raised $8.5 million for the project, with another $80 million in funds projected for later this year. According to Hyperloop Technologies' web site, its investors include Formation 8, Sherpa Ventures, Zhen Capital, and David O. Sacks. Another startup called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has cajoled (via crowdsourcing) people to chip in part-time on engineering and design. The company's CEO told Bloomberg that it hopes to go public later this year. Meanwhile Musk himself has promised to build a test track in Texas for such companies to test out Hyperloop prototypes.
“This thing is real,” architect Craig Hodgetts said in an email about the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s proposal for a high-speed transit system somewhere between a train and a human-scale pneumatique. Hodgetts would know: next year, he’ll direct a studio on the urban implications of the technology for SUPRASTUDIO, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s Master of Architecture II program. The partnership between SUPRASTUDIO, part of UCLA’s IDEAS laboratory, and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the startup company formed to make Musk’s concept a reality, is part of a strategy to crowd-source much of the research and development behind the Hyperloop. For a full year beginning in the summer of 2014, post-professional students admitted to Hodgetts’s studio will research the social and spatial potential of the Hyperloop, in close cooperation with the engineers at Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. The physics of the system, Hodgetts said, are relatively straightforward. For him, the more interesting questions have to do with the passenger experience—with normalizing a new type of travel and counteracting the claustrophobic effects of the tightly-configured, windowless cars. Then there is the impact the Hyperloop will have on the cities it connects. In his studio, Hodgetts said, students will “start looking at new urban networks, at different priorities in terms of urban design. These are really exciting ideas from an urban design and architectural point of view.” Hodgetts, who is a principal at Hodgetts + Fung in Culver City, is no stranger to revolutionary ideas about urban transit. In 1969 he and Lester Walker introduced the Landliner, a straddle-bus that promised to turn sprawling metropolitan regions into continuous “Strip Cities.” Then, in 1978, Hodgetts produced drawings for an unmade movie version of the novel Ecotopia in which the primary form of transport was a network of mag-lev trains. (Like Musk’s Hyperloop, Hodgetts’s Ecotopia trains were propelled forward by pulses of solar-generated electricity.) Today, he’s not afraid to express his enthusiasm for the Hyperloop. After describing the basic principles of the system, he said, “I trust [Musk] totally on that, because we have a Tesla and it’s pretty much anything anybody said about it.” Hodgetts sees in the Hyperloop an “absolutely profound level of change.” It may do for transit, he said, what social media has done for communication. “The main thing that’s exciting to me is that one of the things that has made the biggest social changes is the relative lack of any friction whatsoever in social media...To have something in the physical world that leans in that direction is what I think is really profound.”
When Elon Musk makes plans he makes no little ones. And he feels California shouldn’t either. This is the rationale behind Hyperloop Alpha, a supersonic, solar-powered, air-cushioned transit system (and future “Never Built”?) he views as the bolder alternative to conventional high-speed rail. It’s not a train, exactly. It’s more a hybrid between high-speed rail and the Concord. It’s Mr. Musk’s answer to the ever-delayed and increasingly expensive bullet train being proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Project that was supposed to be “shovel ready” in 2012. Turns out it’s more complicated and expensive to build high-speed rail than anybody in the state ever thought. Could Hyperloop, more bullet and less train, be the answer? If it’s true it could be built for less than one-tenth the cost of the $70 billion high-speed rail system, then perhaps yes. For a mere $20 (He’s really thought this out) you would be able to strap yourself into a thin aluminum tube and get shot (at speeds of up to 750 mph) to San Francisco in about 35 minutes. The design doesn’t feature any windows, so hopefully there will at least be some video monitors or soothing ambient lighting to relax passengers who are essentially locked inside a jet engine hurtling itself through an elevated steel pipeline. In a conference call following the release of the 57-page PDF outline of the project, Musk said there could be a prototype ready for testing within the next four years. Perhaps it’s time for the California High-Speed Rail Project to hire Mr. Musk and his team of engineers and optimists. At least then California could have some form of 21st-century transit underway before 2020.