A team of UCLA architecture students are spending the entire school year researching the Hyperloop, a futuristic transportation tube that promises to blast pods between San Francisco and Los Angeles at 760 mph.
The Hyperloop is the brain child of Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who released early design plans for the Hyperloop last year in reaction to the California High Speed Rail project, which Musk called too slow and too expensive.
Since Musk is so busy building sexy electric cars and low-cost spaceships, he hopes someone else will take up the task of providing California with cutting-edge bullet train technology.
UCLA Architecture and Urban Design school has taken up the challenge by creating a one-year research program, called SUPRASTUDIO, to work out the logistics of constructing a perfectly straight, elevated, vacuum tube between California’s largest urban areas.
The students are building a life-size prototype of a Hyperloop pod as well as a miniature vacuum tube system similar to the old mail delivery pods used in newsrooms and corporate buildings in the mid-20th century.
One of the biggest challenges will be consumer buy in, since travelling at supersonic speeds inside a vacuum tube might give some potential passengers pause — or lose their lunch. Most of the 25 students in the program are Chinese, with only two Americans enrolled.
All of them are Elon Musk fans, one student said.
The UCLA program is funded in part by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a crowd-funded project dedicated to making the Hyperloop concept a reality. The company, launched with help from the El Segundo-based JumpStartFund.com, was initially run by former director of mission operations for SpaceX, Dr. Marco Villa, and Patricia Galloway, former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.