Yours truly, writing for NOVA Next:
Musk is selling the hyperloop as “a fifth mode after planes, trains, cars and boats.” In reality, it owes a great debt of gratitude to that second mode, trains. And while Musk suggests that his untested system is good enough to replace trains, it’s up against some stiff competition. Today, we have high-speed rail and magnetic levitation trains that are speedy, efficient, and—perhaps most important—proven.
“It’s still too far out there in terms of being shown to be viable,” says Dean Peterson, a senior scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and former director of the Super Conducting Technology Center there, where he worked on maglev trains. “It has potential,” he adds, “but some of his concepts still need further work.”
I’ve read a lot about the hyperloop in the last 18 hours, and I can say with reasonable certainty that this is probably the most extensive look at the technology behind the hyperloop and how it relates to high-speed mass transit on a broader scale. I had a blast reporting this piece—everyone I spoke with had amazing stories and insights.