Finding the Problems for the Existing Solutions - Hyperloop

in steemstem •  8 months ago

Hype-r-loop, the project I can't understand

and to be honest, I'm not relevant to make the evaluation of this.
I'm not an engineer and I have nothing to do with the transportation.

To be honest, I feel like some anti-science guy who has done the "research".

But, @kryszec made the challenge, and I simply can't resist.
I won the "my-shittiest-method" challenge, by @sco.

It would be cool to win something again :D

Let's imagine that it works:

Good old mathematical logical paradigm:

  • Prove that something must be true
  • Try proving that the opposite statement is illogical and impossible

Let's check the website:

If I don't put the photo - you will not click...

Some elementary school physics:

Why do you care what is your speed when you travel?
You should actually care about the average speed.

To be honest, all you care about is - the time.

So what is the average time of your Hyperloop trip?
According to Hyperloop, it's 30 min.
And by car, it takes 4 h and 17 min *(Google Maps calculates 4:10, but who cares).


If you are traveling by car, you are starting from the garage and you stop at the destination.
Maybe you will need to take a break for, you, know... Wee...
4.5 h in total (wee included)*

And if you want to use the Hyperloop, you need to:

  • take some transportation to the station, and it will take you 30 min:

You will also need to park the car, walk a little bit.

  • Than you need to wait for your train for at least 15 min
  • And you will need some extra time to put all the luggage, pets, baby equipment, people with broken legs

It's 45 min already

Ride, 30 min

And you need another 45 min in Las Vegas to actually arrive

In total: Car (4.5 h, wee included), Hyperloop (2.0 h + wee emergency)

One unexpected question: Cares - Who?

France has TGV for decades already:

PD Image, but I still like to give the credits to the photographer: Florian Pépellin

But how many times would you want to visit Paris for example?
Eifel Tower, cooool! Invalides, Louvre, coool! Montmartre, Trocadero <3 j'adore <3
But after the fifth visit, it becomes a bit boring.

In conclusion:

  • By car, you need 4.5 h, or half a day
  • By unexisting Hyperloop, you still need at least 2 h, or almost half a day. It will be a bit exhausting to make a round-trip in a day

So where is the benefit?

Now Let's see from the perspective of the investors, to see if that is viable

What problem does it solve?

As it needs 1.5 h (at best) to simply come to/ from the station + 1000 km/h, it's faster than the car only if the distance is > 300 km (if it goes directly A --> B).

So it's irrational to build the local Hyperloops, making them as the oasis in the desert, detached from everything.

What is the competition?

High-speed trains *(we know how to build them), airplanes, cars, basically all the moving... Things...

Our punch line is:

It has electric motors, and the electric motors consist of two parts: rotor - which rotates and the stator - that does not.

Seriously, there is nothing better to say after only 14 seconds?

They repeated it again, in FAQ:

A conventional electric motor has two primary parts: a stator (the part that stays still) and a rotor (the part that moves or rotates). When voltage is applied to the stator it makes the rotor spin and do the work of, say, spinning a power drill. A linear electric motor has the same two main parts, however, the rotor doesn’t rotate but instead moves in a straight line along the length of the stator.

Ok people, it's electric motor, it's ok... The principle is very simple and known for decades.
Problem is... It's way, way easier to have just a regular motor, otherwise, you will need 500 km long "half motor". Why on Earth? You will reduce the friction a little bit (*although the majority comes from the drag, but ok, you have the vacuum which is terribly expencive to make) and you will reduce the noise? Put more isolation instead if you want it to be quiet.

We’re energy-agnostic. Our system can draw power from whichever energy sources are available along the route. If that means solar and wind, then the entire system is 100% carbon free.

Ok... This is... Common logic. The original idea was to use solar, but they have seen how unnecessary it is

What are the benefits vs the costs?

  • People could travel up to 2 h less on 500 km distances (*if they want/ need to travel)

  • Instead of tracks, we will need an incredibly expensive tunnel

  • Instead of normal pressure, we will need the vacuum

  • Instead of normal motors and wheels, we will levitate it

And all that, in order to increase the speed from 300 - 500 km/h range to 800 - 1000 km/h range.
The time of idling, arriving at the station, going from the station to the final destination remains the same.

So it's not 1.5 h vs 0.5 h on the 500 km journey, but rather 3 h vs 2 h.
Or simply, take a car, put the luggage, make a field trip and travel for 5 - 6 hours.
We are waisting our time all the time. Just enjoy the ride.

In my opinion:

Too much complication for the average speed increment from 165 km/h to 250 km/h.

If we want more efficient transport, it would be easier to simply optimize the transportation in cities.
There is the most of the problem.
One traffic jam easily takes 30 min.

And the most important:

Never invent the problems for the existing solutions, because the probability of failure multiplies.
And the Hyperloop needs to solve:

  • how to build those pipes/ tunnels
  • vacuum stations
  • levitation
  • air isolation of the capsules

  • how to do the maintenance and not ruin the whole network
  • how to deal with the emergency situations
  • how to expropriate some 500 km of land
  • what to do once the line becomes non-profitable
  • how to expand the network
  • how to integrate it into the existing systems

  • and who knows what exactly, probably 1587 other things

For no benefit. At least, I don't see the benefits (even if this is possible to build tomorrow).

Just to be clear: I <3 Tesla S, I <3 space rockets, but the Hyperloop - I don't understand it

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Funny enough (with the first picture) in order to do the trip in ~30 minutes would require constant acceleration (for part of it the acceleration will have to be negative) and it is just absolutely ridiculous.


Speaking about the acceleration: TGV accelerates very gently, I quote:

from 0 to 320 km/h it takes 5 minutes 20 seconds.

Keeping such pace, Hyperloop would need about 15 minutes.

From the car perspective (similar value for the passenger airplane during the takeoff phase), 0-100 km/h in 10 s is reasonably fast, thus the Hyperloop would need to give a strong push at the back for 1.5 minutes and 1.5 minutes to come back to zero.

The fastest de-acceleration one could experience in the car, when you want to kiss the windshield is achieved with about V=sqrt(2as) 1g, or 10 m/s2

Imagine such force applied for 30 s. It's not convenient transportation, it's the amusement park ride :D


Doesn't seem to be fun for an amusement park ride either.

The concept behind this is solid... the practicality? Not very practical. I've looked into it a bit and it seems that the US government is going to be fine with letting Elon and peers throw millions of dollars into this project because of Elon's record (SpaceX, Tesla, Paypal, etc.).

I haven't touched up on the science behind it yet, but will this weekend and make claims for hyperloop.


For me, the distances are the most problematic. If we take a look at the map of Europe we can easily see that even the capital cities are relatively close to each other (Paris-Brussels 300 km) and already well covered with the train networks, highways or the airports - thus there is no clear benefit of building the Hyperloop.

Another question would be how to integrate the Hyperloop with the other systems.
Top 4 airports in Europe: London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt.
All the major airline companies have some connections there, they are "collecting the passengers" from all over the World.
One or several Hyperloop lines could not make the change in the system.

And the costs, again.
TGV line per kilometer costs between 5 and 20 Million.
Let's assume that Hyperloop cost only double the amount (impossible, but ok).
1000 km track = 40 billions.
It's more than the double budget for NASA (18.4)

GDP of France or Germany is about 2000 - 3000 billion

Imagine the proposal to spend 1% of the total GDP of Germany and France to connect Paris and Berlin.
In other words, to spend the whole military budget of Germany or France to build a train.

Even if possible, probably nobody would be strong enough to build them


The distance is definitely an issue, but I don't see it being as much of an issue in the US as it would be in Europe as the "major" cities have a bit more distance to them than that.

I'm gathering stuff for a post and going to talk to some of my physics professors tomorrow to work out the science side of it. From what I've read, it should check out if he implements it correctly.

One other issue I saw somebody raise with Hyperloop, is what happens if there is a significant rupture in the tube, the in-rush of air might have catastrophic effects on any vehicles in the tunnel. Imagine 100 Kpa of pressure on one side of vehicle, and 0 on the other.


Vacuum is mean. It's difficult to maintain it even on the small scale.
Having the tube, 500 km long, without any failure caused by anything from the fatigue of the material, landslides, faulty electrical system is difficult to imagine.

And imagine the emergency. Hyperloop is traveling 1000 km/h and it needs to be stopped.

1g de-acceleration from 1000 km/h: it needs 4 kilometers to stop! (no delay in decision making included). It also takes 28s.
Any failure in the next 5km - and all the passengers are dead or injured.

And the energy required to stop it would be incredible to achieve in practice.

Very nice post 👍👍👍