Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, unveiled yesterday, is a concept designed to transport people at up to 800 miles per hour - and at a lower cost than bullet trains.
The billionaire inventor proposed the official concept Monday after teasing the idea of the magnetically propelled, pod-based system for more than a year.
The idea is that pods travel within low-pressure tubes that are nearly airless, hovering on a cushion of air, floating above thin skis of a custom metal alloy.
Air sucked in from an intake in front of the pod would be compressed and ejected beneath to levitate it above the metal sleeve of the device's tube.
Electromagnets would then zap the craft forward at high speeds.
"At first I thought, yeah, this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Daryl Oster, the CEO of California company ET3, told Fox News earlier.
"It’s literally space travel on Earth."
He was talking of the general concept of magnetic levitation, though. Now Musk's ideas, he clarifies, are really not all that far fetched after all.
In fact, Oster's company is already hard at work on a similar concept.
Musk is the man who invented PayPal, privatized outer space through SpaceX and made electric cars a commercial force through his company Tesla.
In a blog post at the car company's website, the billionaire detailed the concept of the Hyperloop after a long night spent dotting I's and crossing T's.
It was born from frustration at his state’s plan to build a bullet train that he called one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world.
“It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving,” the billionaire wrote.
The Hyperloop concept could be that option, he said, a reliable, popular fifth mode of transportation after planes, trains and automobiles (and boats).
After all the hype, however, Hyperloop is still just hot air.
Musk has publicly stated that he is too busy to explore the concept himself, instead releasing the idea to the public to see what others will do with it.
It's up to Oster and others to turn the idea into reality, he said.
Could, and should, it ever come to fruition?