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I believe that the Hyperloop is some sort of cannon. He has earlier revealed that it won't need a tube or tracks

Edit: Source to the no-tube from Elons twitter: "Will publish something on the Hyperloop in about four weeks. Will forgo patents on the idea and just open source it. Not a vac tunnel btw."

Are you sure he specifically said it wouldn't require any sort of tube? I was under the impression that Elon's Hyperloop would be a derivative of the concept of Evacuated Tube Transport - a capsule containing passengers launched inside a tube under vacuum (eliminating air resistance) and levitated using some sort of MagLev (eliminating rolling resistance).

The concept isn't entirely new but having someone with Musk's credibility and resources as a proponent may be the catalyst required to make it happen.

I distinctly recall seeing some PR material circling the internets a few months back from a consortium known as ET3.com The group claims to have been working on a similar project for the past decade.

Yeah, not a vac tube: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/224406502188916739

Think "cheap". The cheapest vacuum is right above us: at 35 km up there's only 1% the air pressure at the surface. It takes some energy to get there, but if you're on a rail you can recoup it on the way down.

I don´t think is a vacuum tube, it seems more like a tube with railgun like propulsion(elevated via towers, like power lines, even using the same power lines routes), but the guiding is maybe based on aerodinamics. There must be some kind of sound contention because he says it is supersonic.

He also said that it would be energetically independent so he may be using the external part of the tube to install solar cells, and the tube itself may be used for accumulation (capacitation maybe?).It doesn´t need to be air tight, just somehow sound insulated. The steering or "levitation" inside the tube may be obtained via shock waves (note his actual experience with high energy aerodinamics due to the development in spaceX).

He surely is taking advantage of the knowledge gained in the R&D of SpaceX, Tesla and Solar city.

With all the aerodynamic losses in such a system, it will use much more energy than a plane ride.

"it would cost you much less than an air ticket or car – much less than any other mode of transit – because the fundamental energy cost is so much lower" – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uegOUmgKB4E#t=46m03s

Oh, and he said elsewhere that you wouldn't have to wait, which implies individual cars. That means much more frontal area per person than a regular plane.

My money is on this: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4806350

Well, by definition projectile used in any cannon will crash, so that's not it :)

Not if you attach a "grasshopper" to the projectile :)

And there goes my dream for a Futurama style Tube Transport System.

The cannon idea is really interesting. Musk's initiatives are all about reducing the cost of long term operation in order to disrupt the market. Most of the operational cost of air transportation is (I believe) in the take-off. If you eliminated the need for the aircraft itself to takeoff by projecting it with a rail-gun then this could theoretically reduce costs greatly. Essentially creating airline bullet gliders. Just a theory.

I would love it if this were true. I have been saying (only semi-tongue-in-cheek) for years that getting shot out of a cannon would be a great form of transportation, if only the bugs could get worked out (i.e., eliminate possibility of mid-air collisions). :-)

Forgoing patents on it is a bad idea if it means that a troll will immediately patent the idea after Musk releases it.

If only there were a GPL for patents...

Actually, the problem is that someone will immediately acquire patents on trivial upgrades and logically-related extensions of the idea. The publication of the idea itself would be prior art.

Right. So we'll all have to constructively publish as many related ideas as possible, as soon as possible :)

That's the spirit!

What about prior art?

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