If you’ve ever dreamed about traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under 8 minutes, that fantasy might become reality in the future. That’s if you believe the plans announced by Hyper Chariot, a competitor of Elon Mush and his Hyperloop transportation system.
Hyper Chariot is designed to use high-grade vacuum technology to propel car-sized pods holding 6 passengers at 4,000 miles an hour through airless concrete tubes. An array of solar panels will line the tubes to power cryogenically-chilled superconductors that will create the quantum levitation needed to eliminate friction.
But don’t plan on taking this “Buck Rogers” ride any time soon. The Hyper Chariot company claims that the system will be operational by 2040. Before that happens, a demonstration vehicle called “The Velocitator” is planned to prove that the concept will work. That venture alone has a projected cost of $75 million – $100 million with a completion date of 2021.
Tesla founder Elon Musk was first in announcing his Hyperloop concept. The difference between the two systems is in the size of the passenger pods and the cost. Hyper Chariot trains will be lighter and faster than the Hyperloop, weighing in at 400 pounds as compared to Musk’s Hyperloop cars that will weigh in at about 20 tons.
The transport tubes are different too. Hyper Chariots will use reinforced concrete tubes about five feet wide while the Hyperloop system is designed to use steel tubes on a single track about the width of an average street. The radical difference between the two concepts translates to a much lower projected cost per mile for Hyper Chariot. Currently the Hyper Chariot estimate is $25 million per mile while the Hyperloop cost is estimated at $64 million per mile.
Hyper Chariot, based in Santa Monica, has plans on operating in numerous countries around the world. Locations in the United State, including Las Vegas and Florida, are being studied to build the first three–mile, 400mph Velocitator demonstration systems.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the possibility of either one of these maglev projects every being completed. USC Engineering professor James Moore is one expert who says the cost is too high to ever be practical. He also questions the safety aspect of any system that propels humans at hypersonic speeds if an accident should occur.
Hyper Chariot counters the safety argument with the statement that the system would be automated via computers and that only cargo would be transported for the first year to iron out any bugs in the system.