Hyperloop will be a “cross between the Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table”
and will deliver passengers between US cities faster than the speed of sound. Well, almost.
Concorde: This supersonic people mover reached its end-of-life and hands over the crown to HyperLoop. While not supersonic, the PeoplePods incorporated into the Fifth Mode of Transportation will travel just under the speed of sound at 0.91 Mach, or 91% of the speed of sound [ this equates to 700 mph or 1,130 kph ].
Rail Gun: The PeoplePods will be accelerated by linear motors, which are the basis of rail guns. The linear motors are expected to be utilized for only a total of 1% of the length of the tube. The motors would be used for initial acceleration and for a speed boost approximately every 70 miles.
Air Hockey Table: PeoplePods would be supported by an air bearing, just a cushion of air, similar to the way pucks are supported on an air hockey table. A network of 28 air bearing skis will support the pod with a clearance between 0.020 and 0.050 inch from the tube walls. At speeds less than 100 mph, the air bearings would be externally pressurized by an on-board air reservoir. When the pod is traveling at really low speeds, deployable wheels could be used for support.
The Concorde, rail guns and air bearings are existing disparate industrial technologies which will be synergized to form the basis of the Hyperloop. The challenge will be to bring them together in a new way, meeting the demands of real-world hostile environments. SpaceX and Tesla Motors already have in-house expertise in extreme engineering.