Hyperloop System can potentially send passengers from Los Angeles to San Fransisco in 30 minutes. Tesla Motors

Hyperloop is the future of transportation. According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Hyperloop is a "cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table." But what does that really mean?

Elon Musk made early hints that the Hyperloop will be so fast that it will be capable of taking passengers from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco is just 30 minutes. This means that this innovative mode of transportation is designed to carry passengers at speeds exceeding 600 mph.

In addition, Musk promises that the hyperspeed transit system will also be cheap and convenient. Tickets aboard the Hyperloop will cost less than a plane or a train. What's more, the Hyperloop system will be capable of sending passengers to destinations frequently as well.

Finally, Elon Musk promises the new Hyperloop will also be safe, convenient, immune to weather, sustainably self-powering, resistant to earthquakes, and not disruptive to those along the route.

On Monday afternoon, Elon Musk eventually revealed details of the Hyperloop system, or what the Tesla CEO calls the fifth mode of transportation after planes, trains, cars, and boats. Musk, a modern day industrialist, envisions a tube either over or under the ground that will contain a low pressure environment that will allow a high-tech pod or capsule with a passenger compartment to rapidly travel from one end of the tube to the next.

High-speed tube transport has been discussed in the past. However, many physical obstacles prevent a practical system from being introduced.

According to Musk, enlarged versions of pneumatic tubes that deliver mail and packages between buildings require large, powerful fans to push air at high speed through a tube. However, the friction of a 350 mile column of air at near sonic velocity will make transport impossible.

Next, a vaccum tube using electromagnetic suspension was also suggested. However, maintaining a near vacuum area of that size is nearly impossible as any leaky seal or crack somewhere in the hundreds of miles of tubing will cause the system to fail.

Ultimately, Musk proposes that a low pressure system set to a level easily maintained by standard commercial pumps may hold the most promise.

However, Musk's proposal is also hindered by another physical limitation known as the Kantrowitz limit, nature's inherent top speed given to a tube to pod area ratio. Musk's design will address the Kantrowitz limit by applying an electric compressor fan to the nose of the capsule to transfer high pressure air from the front and transfer said pressure to the rear. This simple design solution effectively creates a low friction suspension system that is capable of propelling the capsule at 700 mph.

While the hyperloop system design may sound well thought out, Musk admits that economies of scale will prevent the Hyperloop technology to be applied in certain conditions. Beyond a certain inflection point, supersonic air travel will be faster and cheaper than the tube.

"It makes sense for things like L.A. to San Francisco, New York to D.C., New York to Boston,” Musk explained. “Over 1,000 miles, the tube cost starts to become prohibitive, and you don’t want tubes every which way. You don’t want to live in Tube Land.”

Given the investment in designing and presenting the new technology, one would assume that Elon Musk is already working on developing a new company to leapfrog Hyperloop technology.

"I have to focus on core Tesla business and SpaceX business, and that's more than enough," Musk said Tuesday, Aug. 7, during a conference call with Tesla investors.

This means that the Hyperloop technology is presented to the world so that a community of curious engineers and inventors can embrace the idea for themselves. Musk also expresses interest in offering assistance in developing the technology should it come to it.

"If nothing happens for a few years, with that I mean maybe it could make sense to make the halfway path with Tesla involvement," Musk said, according to Gizmodo. "But [what] I would say is, you shouldn't be speculative."

Be sure to watch the video below to learn more about the Hyperloop:


High-Speed Tube Transport: How Can Tourists Travel From New York To Beijing In Two Hours? [VIDEO]