Concept design for Elon Musk's Hyperloop transportation system Only 42 years young, visionary extraordinaire Elon Musk has presented the world with a handful of era-defining products and services. You may have heard of a few of them: PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity. His latest and perhaps most ambitious (read: bordering on crazy) venture is called Hyperloop and it, like its originator, is a concept that's married to forward movement.
If you haven’t already been innundated with equal parts breathless and skeptical accounts of it on the internet, Hyperloop is a futuristic public transport system that promises a trip from San Francisco to L.A. in the time it takes most of us to check our email—the 800mph craft would make the trip in 30 minutes. The project he's proposing, which involves constructing a tube system through which pod-like vessels will be propelled in a fashion similar to an air hockey puck, is supposedly going to be more cost-efficient than L.A.'s 70 billion dollar highway system, as well as environmentally friendly, and cheaper than flying.
But not everyone is aboard the Hyperloop express. Critics are afraid that its science fiction undertones will remain just that, citing unrealistic cost analyses and functionality.
Whatever its future, it's fun to imagine one where mass transportation is light years ahead of where it is now. Yet, as Hyperloop perhaps has reminded us, not all ideas in that arena might be worth pursuing. Here are a number that will take your breath away even if they don’t ever take you anywhere.
A bikeway tube system proposed for the city of Toronto. Providing all-season cycling, velo-city, like Hyperloop, would be built over existing rails to ease introduction and costs. It also does away with the notion that public transportation of the future should be a spectator sport.
Next promises to be the Facebook of the self-driving future. As self-navigating modular vehicles, each next model can travel on its own as an app-driven car or can link up with others to create modular “trains” that double as travelling living spaces.
Also named the 3D Express Coach, the Straddling Bus is now more reality than fiction, having been used in China (though no shots of it in action exist). Though seemingly useful in heavily congested areas, its design is reminiscent of something that would never leave the conception stage.
Bringing together the best of both worlds, this low-flying high-speed vehicle is both a plane and a train. Through the power of reduced flight, the Aero Train lifts off the ground enough to serve as a prototype for a future where planes are trains and vice versa.
Ringway Transportation Technology
A ring-based travel alternative designed by Naveen Chaudhary that has one type of vehicle that is powered by a jet engine (the top) and another that operates through chain drive mechanisms. No word on what happens if either vehicle hits a curbed loop.
A superhero allusion is appropriate as Kolelinio lets you fly through urban spaces. Fitted with a battery-powered backpack, users strap themselves into a lift that reminds of those used in skiing villages. It’s imaginative but seems too stomach turning-ly risky.
Essentially a blimp in the shape of a cloud formation, Passing Cloud takes mass transportation to unmatched heights. A wonder to behold but how do you keep passengers from getting blown away by a strong wind?
Like floating skyscraper spores, the Hydrogenase would be an aerial ship for a future low on oil. It’s a hybrid airship that would be entirely reliant on biofuels for transport and that could function as a vessel for a variety of reasons. Enchanting but a bit far-fetched for now.