Ultra-fast tubular travel could change your commute’s energy needs

You could soon travel 700 miles in one hour.

In a tube.

Seems far-fetched, but teams of researchers across the globe are working to make it happen. 

It ...

Tagged: hyperloop, Elon Musk, tubular travel

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Ultra-fast tubular travel could change your commute’s energy needs

Commuters sit on a super-fast futuristic train

It started with a double-dog dare from Elon Musk. Story has it, the rock-star entrepreneur was frustrated with gridlock traffic one day and thought up the idea of ultra-fast tubular travel.

Key Points

  • Elon Musk dared researchers to engineer ultrafast tubular travel.
  • A group of students from The Netherlands won the challenge.
  • The goal is to go more than 700 miles per hour in an elevated tube with a pod.

You could soon travel 700 miles in one hour.

In a tube.

Seems far-fetched, but teams of researchers across the globe are working to make it happen. 

It started with a double-dog dare from Elon Musk. Story has it, the rock-star entrepreneur was frustrated with gridlock traffic one day and thought up the idea of ultrafast tubular travel.

It’s been described as a pie-in-the-sky idea, but it shouldn’t be a surprise coming from the same guy who wants to populate Mars.

Musk calls it the “fifth mode of transportation.” The system would include some sort of elevated tube that could be built alongside the interstate highway system with pods propelled by renewable energy at speeds around 700 miles per hour.

Musk issued the SpaceX Challenge a couple years ago to challenge some of the best and brightest to make the impossible possible. The worldwide competition attracted more than 120 teams from 20 countries. A team from MIT won the first phase of the competition with a design that uses the power of magnets to propel its pod forward on an aluminum track.

Last week, a group of students from Delft University in The Netherlands took home the trophy for the second phase that included test runs of actual prototypes.

Check out their pods in action.

The next phase is set for this summer and will focus on increasing the speed of the pods.

All of the research done for the competition is open-sourced, with the goal of propelling the idea even further. Two companies are already looking to create their own versions of the tube for potential commercial use.

There are lots of hurdles to overcome before this idea becomes a complete reality, but big ideas like this could change how we travel. And with a system that uses only renewable energy, it could change how we use energy in our day-to-day lives. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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