Yesterday, inventor/entrepreneur Elon Musk announced his plans for the Hyperloop, a pneumatic tube to zip passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about a half hour for about $40 round trip. That’s a speed of about 800 miles per hour. He says it can be built in less than a decade for about $6 billion to $7.5 billion. By comparison, the California High Speed Rail project to link the two cities is projected to cost nearly $70 billion.
Today, people are throwing up all over the idea. Not me.
I don’t know whether the Hyperloop will work. I do know that Musk is one smart guy, founding or playing a major role in PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors and Solar City. He’s also a gutsy guy, throwing out a 57-page discussion of the Hyperloop and inviting people to tear it apart and criticize it.
The numbers seem fantastic, to be sure. But with Musk’s track record, he deserves a full hearing.
Here’s the thing I applaud about him: He’s willing to get us thinking once again about seriously using technology to leapfrog to a new way of doing real, physical tasks – not just gaining efficiencies in the virtual world (and I’m not downplaying those advances at all).
The Wright brothers did it. Henry Ford did it. I’m sure many people thought they were crazy dreamers and cock-eyed optimists.
Say what you will about Musk. At least he’s challenging us again to think in exciting new ways about what we might be able to do with technology.
I admire him. How about you?