Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and commercial space company SpaceX, has finally unveiled the "Hyperloop," his much-hyped new transportation system idea. And it's pretty far out there. It's a bit like a human shotgun, explains Businessweek: people would sit inside aluminum pods, which would shoot through steel tubes at up to 800 miles per hour. It could also potentially hold cars. The pods would be mounted on skis above an air cushion, launched by an electromagnetic pulse and magnets, then propelled along the route by motors. "The pod can go just below the speed of sound relative to the air," says Musk.
Musk's vision is for a Hyperloop from LA to San Francisco, fueled by disappointment in the planned $70 billion California high-speed train, which he thinks will be too slow and expensive. Musk estimates a Hyperloop following the I-5 would cost $6 billion to build with pods just for people, or $10 billion for pods that could hold people and cars. Beyond that, he says, the system would work best for trips under 1,000 miles, like New York to DC or Boston. However, sci-fi fans and Californian commuters may be disappointed to learn that Musk has no plans to commercialize the Hyperloop yet. "I’m just putting this out there as an open source design," he says. "I still have to run SpaceX and Tesla." But if no one else takes his idea and runs with it, he may find time "down the road." You can read Musk's blog post on the Hyperloop here. (Read more Hyperloop stories.)