Because electric cars and rockets apparently aren't interesting enough, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk last year proposed a futuristic transportation system called the Hyperloop. The system would launch people to their destinations in pods traveling in above-ground tubes at up to 800 mph, but Musk said he wasn't actually interested in building the thing. Instead, a California startup is taking on the project itself.
According to Wired, JumpStartFund is relying on both crowdfunding and crowd sourcing to develop the Hyperloop through a subsidiary called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which we first reported on late last year. Since then, it's gathered about 100 engineers from around the country—including 25 students from UCLA—who work on the project during their off time. While most transportation projects are built to fill a specific need, this team seems more interested in just getting the Hyperloop up and running wherever they can.
Musk's original plan called for a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco that would take it through heavily-populated areas, but the company is considering L.A. to Las Vegas or other routes where securing land wouldn't be as difficult. Engineers envision a future national network, and Hyperloops in Europe and Asia, too.
For the pods, engineers are proposing what they call a "bubble strategy," with the passenger-carrying pod nested inside a hard outer shell. They also have plans for economy-class and freight-carrying pods.
Of course, refining the concept is one thing. Actually testing and building it is another.
Developers expect to start building the first of a series of prototypes sometime next year, and believe the final product could be delivered within the decade. That will require some serious cash, though: Musk's original estimate of $6-10 billion for a 400-mile Hyperloop seems to be accurate so far.