Tesla Hyperloop

Noor Davis
November 10, 2014

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2014


Fig. 1: Hyperloop Rail. (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

The Tesla Hyperloop has the potential to be one of the most effective forms of transportation ever. This futuristic capsule, modeled to have the effects of a high-speed bullet train, could enable you to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in only 35 minutes, rather than a six-hour drive or hour and a half flight. The Hyperloop would be traveling at speeds of almost 700 miles per hour, faster than most commercial airliners and slightly less than the speed of sound.

How Would it Work?

Elon Musk said his idea is similar to the "old pneumatic tubes used to send mail and packages within and between buildings," but would operate under much less pressure to save on energy. [1]

The cars would be pushed or pulled through the tube by a series of electric motors. Each car would be mounted with a fan in front to move the air out of the way. The air itself would then be directed underneath the car, forming a cushion on which it would ride. The entire thing would be powered by solar panels mounted on top of the tube. The idea is very conservationist based, and the tubes would be built above ground to make it more cost efficient. The Hyperloop concept is pictured below.

Fig. 2: Hyperloop Capsule rendition displaying its functionality. Air compressor on the front, passenger compartment in the middle, battery compartment at the back and air bearing skis at the bottom. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Improvements and Efficiency in Transit

In comparison to the California high-speed rail that was approved and is under construction currently, the Hyperloop would be:

Lower cost
More convenient
Immune to weather
Sustainably self-powering
Resistant to Earthquakes
Not disruptive to those along the route

The total cost of the project would be less than $7 billion, less than a tenth of the price of the California rail, which is projected to cost $70 billion. The California High-Speed Rail is supposed to run at speeds of up to 164 miles per hour, extraordinarily less than the speed of the Hyperloop. The Hyperloop's San Francisco to Los Angeles traveling speed of nearly 700 miles per hour, would more than double The Shanghai Maglev Train (the world's fastest commercial train) whose highest recorded speed of 311 miles per hour, and top operating speed of 268 miles per hour. [2]

More companies investigating the idea such as ET3 (Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies), claim that in the frictionless environment, the cars, each carrying six people, could reach top speeds 4,000 miles per hour, six times the speed of a Boeing 757. It claimed a travel time of 45 minutes from New York to Los Angeles.

Musk says that the project, when finally tuning up all potential challenges, a prototype can be developed within three to four years. Musk says the idea is not a priority, and encourages all people who are interested in the idea to help add more ideas on the model, and even funding if they want to get it started sooner.

© Noor Davis. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] S. Hargreaves, "Hyperloop: San Francisco to L.A. in 30 Minutes," CNN Money, 12 Aug 13.

[2] D. Gross, "Hyperloop vs. World's Fastest Trains," CNN, 7 Apr 14.