Colorado Hyperloop Impact Art

Are you a citizen of Colorado that wants to see the development of the Hyperloop and make Colorado better?

Are you interested in the opportunity to participate in one of the most dynamic technical and societal impact-focused events of the year, where you’ll get to meet and collaborate with other hyperloop visionaries, entrepreneurs, and other changemakers?

Colorado Hyperloop, as a Hyperloop One Global Challenge Semi-Finalist, is seeking to show leadership-level participants and judges YOUR input.

Here’s how it works:

  • How can we illustrate with art the impact of generations, racial, socioeconomic, geographic – to create a hyperloop system that works for everyone?
  • Transform your vision of what and where you want to see Hyperloop and how it would look. Give your art (text, video, etc) context in the following cities if possible:  (Fort Collins, CO ↔ Greeley ↔ Loveland ↔ Longmont ↔ Boulder ↔ Westminster ↔ Denver ↔ Centennial ↔ Monument ↔ Castle Rock ↔ Colorado Springs ↔ Pueblo)  Amaze us! Are you a school age kid or city planner or community organizers or new immigrant or a woman or teacher or a person? Then submit some art!
  • Upload your masterpiece to your social media accounts and tag them #COHyperloopHere so we can track them across the interwebz.
  • If we like your vision (or if it at least makes us smile), we’ll repost on our own channels and tag you.
  • When you see it on our socials, go encourage your friends, family, coworkers to upvote/share/like/re-tweet your masterpiece as we want intersectoral viewpoints!

Good luck, and we can’t wait to see your creations!

 

 

Hyperloop Stations will Benefit from Google Investments

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Newly created, and Google funded, Sidewalk Labs has an interesting mission.

The New York Times has a great article about them:

Sidewalk Labs, Mr. Doctoroff said, planned to work in “the huge space between civic hackers and traditional big technology companies.”

While big technology companies take a “top-down approach and seek to embed themselves in a city’s infrastructure,” he said Sidewalk Labs would instead seek to develop “technology platforms that people can plug into” for things like managing energy use or altering commuting habits. He pointed to New York’s bike-sharing program as an early example of a technology-assisted innovation in transportation.

Big infrastructure projects like the hyperloop are going to need to be as agile as possibe, or else the communities, and politicians won’t want to spend money on them.

It seems like the US is needing to catch up to other innovative cities around the world. Hopefully Google will help make hyperloop projects in their own backyard.

Below is the original press release post from Larry Page:

Many of you are reading this post while living in a city. And you can probably think of a ton of ways you’d like your city to be better—more affordable housing, better public transport, less pollution, more parks and green spaces, safer biking paths, a shorter commute… the list goes on!

Many cities around the world have already made a lot of progress in some of these areas—for instance, developing dashboards to measure and visualize traffic patterns, and building tools that let residents instantly evaluate and provide feedback on city services. But a lot of urban challenges are interrelated—for example, availability of transportation affects where people choose to live, which affects housing prices, which affects quality of life. So it helps to start from first principles and get a big-picture view of the many factors that affect city life. Then, you can develop the technologies and partnerships you need to make a difference.

So I’m very excited about +Sidewalk Labs​, a new company we’ve announced today. (The press release is at www.sidewalkinc.com if you want to read more).  Sidewalk will focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage. The company will be led by Dan Doctoroff, former CEO of Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor of Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York. Every time I talk with Dan I feel an amazing sense of opportunity because of all the ways technology can help transform cities to be more livable, flexible and vibrant.  I want to thank +Adrian who helped to bring Dan on board.

While this is a relatively modest investment and very different from Google’s core business, it’s an area where I hope we can really improve people’s lives, similar to Google[x] and Calico. Making long-term, 10X bets like this is hard for most companies to do, but Sergey and I have always believed that it’s important. And as more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless. Now it’s time to hit the streets and get to work!

Elon Musk Discusses Hyperloop at MIT

 MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department's 2014 Centennial Celebration
MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department’s 2014 Centennial Celebration

The MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium was where Elon Musk answered a question on the Hyperloop. The question was prompted by Elliot Owen, who built a working model of the hyperloop tube and pods (that can be seen below). The question can be seen in the link below, at the 01:02:00 mark:

http://webcast.amps.ms.mit.edu/fall2014/AeroAstro/index-Fri-PM.html

Here are some key points answered by Elon;

  • He was asked by on whether temperature of the Hyperloop tube would be too high. Elon responded that the diameter of the hyperloop tube would be twice the diameter of the hyperloop pod, to allow air to flow around the pod. You dont want a tight fit.
  • Inner part of the hyperloop tube must be smooth. So you might even have to run a grinder in the inside of the tube to smooth it out.
  • The air-ski’s are spring when the pod is moving through the tube.
  • Expansion of the tube, due to thermal differences, must happen at the terminals. Each pylon must also be allowed to stretch, and you can’t hard constrain it at the pylons.

So much more in the interview and questions, so just watch the whole interview. Below are Elliot Owen’s working model of the hyperloop & presentation.

Modular Colorado Hyperloop

The future is modular?

Perhaps it is, but the key takeaway from Project Ara, a modular function mobile device, is that they are trying out the idea rapidly. It is based out of something called Phonebloks:

Phonebloks began as a college project. It was an idea more than it ever was a business. It was an idea Phonebloks hoped would spread across the internet and someone would grab it and run with it. In the last year or so, the idea has spread, and now multiple companies are using this idea to drive their business. One of those companies is Google.

Project Ara took shape with the acquisition of Motorola. Motorola and Google took the idea of Phonebloks, a modular phone with swappable parts, from idea to concept. And even though Google is in the process of selling Motorola to Lenovo, they are keeping Project Ara in house.

Watch a couple of minutes of this presentation to see how the project has come about:

Modularness is the main point, but the whole project is driven by the developer/maker community.

There are plenty of themes that the Colorado Hyperloop can use for its development. But in reality, in order for the Hyperloop to be built along the front range, it will truly have to be developed in conjunction with community input. The tube and loop system should be as modular and customizable as possible.

The wider community facilities development and that is why the hyperloop should demonstrate different modular designs.

Commuting via Hyperloop

A Colorado Hyperloop Ad

The morning commute to work or school is an experience that most of us would rather not have to do. In a car company sponsored post on the website Good.is, we learn that countries spend money (shock! Perhaps earned from taxes?!) on commuters for the infrastructure that they use!

Whether they get to work by lanes, trains or ferries, commuters around the world are increasing in number, and cities are taking notice. The investment in public transportation, in the infrastructure and convenience of daily travel, is not cheap, currently ranging from a cost of $2,492 in Istanbul to $9,229 in New York per commuter. …
By expanding their networks, however, cities around the world are getting ready for a booming return on their investment.

The infographic that goes along with the article projects an increase in ridership (and walking and bikership) by 2030.

What if commuting on the hyperloop meant that you would get paid for your ride? If congestion gets so bad on roads and highways as well as above ground trains, the hyperloop would harness its energy efficient, fast and safe transportation to undercut the expensive, dirty and unsafe other transportation. Just check out the latest advertisement from the Colorado Hyperloop.

A good deal?
A good deal?

Colorado Walkable Cities Better for Humans and Hyperloops

Paris in Civilization Beyond Earth

The Denver Business Journal does not normally post things that might touch on Human-Centered Design but today they relayed the findings from a University of Colorado Denver  paper that walkable cities make for healthier citizens.  The study goes more into how the physical streets (not really sidewalks) have been designed, networked and planned over time and how that determines whether they have “good public health”. From the Denver Business Journal:

If Colorado communities were looking for one more reason to shift towards transit-oriented development, they may have found it.
Cities that have denser, more compact living conditions are likely to have lower disease rates and obesity rates, according to a new University of Colorado Denver study.
“While it is possible to lead an active, healthy lifestyle in most any type of neighborhood, our findings suggest that people living in more compact cities do tend to have better health outcomes,” said Wesley Marshall, assistant professor of engineering at CU Denver.

Good job CU Denver Department of Civil Engineering!

The news story is similar to the Colorado Hyperloop post on NASA monitoring the air quality above Colorado.  But it ties those kind of findings with a Danish way of life. Specifically, how to make healthy cities by Jan Hehl:

Cities of the 21st century should be lively, safe, sustainable and healthy cities. Jan Gehl tells us how all of these qualities can be achieved through the policy of making walking and cycling the preferred mode of movement in the city.

To me, a sustainable city would be a very people-friendly city. It would be a city with good public spaces and a city that is rather compact. It would be a city that really invites people to walk and bicycle as much as possible. A good walking and cycling environment with a good public realm is also a good environment for public transport, so there is an important connection here as well. Strengthening public transportation will be essential in the future, in order to become less dependent on private cars and also in order for the city to become more people-friendly.

Having a hyperloop station in the most densely populated areas with best pedestrian and public transport access would be ideal. Im just not sure how that would work though…  but thats why we need to start thinking big.

But lets end on a high note. Read the excellent post on the Gehl Architects blog by Sustainia’s  Fabijana Popovic:

Where does health come from?

We tend to view an unhealthy diet and physical inactiveness as personal life style choices – but there are some important questions, we should be asking before we draw that conclusion. Is it easy to walk or bike from A to B where you live? Are there healthy foods available at your local grocery store? Are there enough green spaces, where your busy city mind can take a break and you can breathe in clean air?

Being unhealthy is only a lifestyle choice if there is an alternative. And there are many ways in which cities can encourage a healthier way of life.

The rapid urbanization puts pressure on city planners, policy makers and architects to create healthy, sustainable and socially-functioning cities for the 6.3 billions who will have moved to a city by 2050. One thing is creating homes for all these people, it’s another thing to create the spaces between the homes that encourage us to live healthy lives.

One thing is clear, healthy cities don’t just happen – they are built on purpose. When we don’t just consider health a personal issue, we open our eyes to the health potential in the spaces we share. We could open up for more outdoors classes for school children, and more walking meetings for the workforce. If we make active transportation a priority, we would build cities that make it easy to walk and bike around and thereby reduce commuting by car, and if we acknowledge that a healthy diet can prevent many chronic diseases, we would have more city gardens and the availability of local foods would rise. And if we build spaces that encourage different people to meet and have a conversation, we will have created a city with more cohesion and less loneliness.

Health is no more a personal issue than sustainability or traffic safety is. Furthermore, it is a cross-sector job, where different stakeholders need to work together in order to create a healthy city. Only in the space between city planners, architects, politicians, healthcare professionals and other vital societal arenas can we create cities that are truly forpeople.

One more thing, the featured picture/gif above is from the video game Civilization, Beyond Earth which might have mag lev or hyperloops in it… can’t wait to play it in October! 🙂

High-Speed Rail Needs A Hyperloop and Less Baggage in America

 

A map of the USA showing a hypothetical high speed rail lines across the continent
Artist and activist Alfred Twu’s image.

 

High-speed rail has been in the news in that its not working. The New York Times states:

High-speed rail was supposed to be President Obama’s signature transportation project, but despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China.

Fairly obvious, but we all know why high speed transport will eventually happen:

 Andy Kunz, executive director of the U.S. High-Speed Rail Association, thinks the United States will eventually have a high-speed rail system that connects the country. “It’s going to take some years after gas prices rise and highways fill up with traffic,” he said. “It’s going to happen because we won’t have a choice.”

The only thing lacking right now is American political will. But The Denver Post picks up with a press pool report from Senator Bennet:

Local and state officials Monday touted the importance of two huge transportation projects as keys to congestion relief and economic growth in Colorado.

But while the FasTracks mass-transit plan in the Denver metro area and the Twin Tunnels expansion in Idaho Springs are rolling along, those and others like it could be stymied by federal lawmakers who can’t agree on a long-term funding package for roads, said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado.

“It’s making me absolutely crazy,” Bennet said Monday. “There is this concern about the federal budget, but because of these temporary extensions, there is an amazing amount of money being lost that could be spent on infrastructure.”

Seems like everyone is touting the relief that Rail/Hyperloop will bring. But don’t forget Buses!

But when it does happen will we have the necessary know how to build it? According to a NPR article on the Construction Industry Missing Key Tool: Skilled Workers, NPR explains:

It’s a problem of supply and demand: There is a massive construction boom right now but construction workers are few and far between.

Largely fueled by the energy industry, tens of billions of dollars of development is in the works along the Gulf Coast and in the Midwest.

The Associated Builders and Contractors estimates the construction industry is facing a shortage of almost 2 million skilled workers by the end of the decade.

The hyperloop can be different. Automation and robotics can be designed to install prefabricated modular units of the hyperloop.

According to Melonee Wise, the manual laborer of the future has only one arm and stands just three feet, two inches tall. Such are the vital statistics of UBR1, a $35,000 mobile robot unveiled today by Wise’s startup company Unbounded Robotics. Though robots have long been a part of manufacturing, they have traditionally worked in isolation. But in recent years, thanks to advances in hardware and software, new kinds of robot have begun to appear among human workers in factories and warehouses. 

  Lets end with a quote and substitute the Mars stuff for a hyperloop:  

Controlling the Colorado Hyperloop Environment

Color drawing of Front Range Hyperloop
Color drawing of Front Range Hyperloop
Front Range Hyperloop

The title of this post is Controlling the Colorado Hyperloop Environment.

Yes, controlling is a strong word. Does it mean physically or politically?

Also, environment means many different things. Is that social, or weather related?For a large transportation project that stretches miles over the horizon, the role of the environment (weather and politically) is critical to system stability.

Lets focus on Mother Nature. The hyperloop will be covered in a weather/waterproof cement like tube. These will be the main controlling factor to the environment inside the tubes. Other innovative systems are also trying to control the environment. Take for example a article on NextCity.org about MIT’s CityFarm.

Indoor farming sounds, at first blush, like a second-rate fallback option; perhaps it’s necessary, but it means forgoing the natural abundance of the elements outdoors. When Harper describes it, though, those elements sound more like uncooperative troublemakers. Reviewing the advantages he enjoys compared with his hypothetical counterpart out in the fields, Harper says, “The reason he uses chemicals, pesticides and genetic modification is that he can’t control anything. It’s windy, there’s not enough minerals. He tries to take that plant and any way he can make that plant a super plant to survive in an adverse world.” By contrast, “I’m trying to create a perfect world. So the plant can do what it’s good at, which is grow.”

“Indoors you can control everything. Outdoors you can control nothing. What’s better? Duh.” 

So a closed environment is good idea especially if you are trying to do certain, specific things.

Now lets talk about the political and city environment. When the hyperloop is built it will lead to a shift in citizens expectations. Controlling such an environment will not be easy, nor should it be controlled. Another NextCity.org article had some good thoughts on how the change in the potical environment of cities due to a Hyperloop:

2. Urban life is bending toward on-demand. Hyperloop, as Musk sees it, will be made up of pods, or capsules, capable of holding up to 28 passengers each. There will be no need to wait — the vision is for pods to leave every two minutes on average, and every 30 seconds during rush hour. 

That echoes what we’ve seen with services like Uber or Airbnb, when resources are broken up into discrete bits, whether they’re unused cars or excess rooms, and distributed when and where consumers want them. No more of the “pulsed situation” that we see at airports, Musk writes, where scheduling generates lines. The Hyperloop will, with its regularity, seem like a steady flow. One possibility is that, in turn, it spurs even more on-demand transportation options. If you spend just 30 minutes getting from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you’re unlikely to want to spend another half-hour on a taxi line once you get there.

3. Tapping existing infrastructure makes the impossible possible. It’s not the pods that cost real money, Musk argues. Nor is it the motors to power them. It’s the tubes themselves. In the case of California, though, it’s possible to build the path on pylons above ground, which means “you can almost entirely avoid the need to buy land by following alongside the mostly very straight California Interstate 5 highway, with only minor deviations when the highway makes a sharp turn.”

The use of public resources can drive down costs, something Google has found as it has sought to build out Internet access with its Fiber project. Where it’s necessary to build on private land, Musk writes, the advantage of building above ground is that Hyperloop would inconvenience landowners no more than having a telephone pole on their property.

4. Affordability is the key to sustainability. Musk made his first real fortune on PayPal, a peer-to-peer banking system that made it possible for even the smallest of businesses to collect and distribute funds — and which powered the explosive growth of eBay. Now with his Tesla Motors, Musk says that his ultimate goal includes producing “affordably priced family cars” to “help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.” It’s clear that Musk’s ambition is for Hyperloop to be an leap ahead, environmentally, as compared to existing modes of transportation. For that to happen, he’ll need to pull cars off the road and planes out of the air, which means keeping ticket prices low.

5. Open source is the way ahead. Hyperloop is an “open source transportation concept,” Musk says, “similar to Linux,” wherein the plans are released absent the copyright we might expect to see. Musk has invited feedback, saying “iteration of the design by various individuals and groups can help bring Hyperloop from an idea to a reality.” In particular, he says, he could use help designing the control mechanism for pods and the stations themselves.

In their new book, The Metropolitan Revolution, the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley describe federal and state governments as “a collection of hardened silos” where transportation departments design transportation-centric solutions. Cities, meanwhile, are “organic communities” where shared responsibilities can come from anywhere. It helps if plans and ideas, then, aren’t held in a proprietary grasp. It’s an openness to openness that is, in fact, key to the seriousness with which commentators have treated Musk’s role as a transportation entrepreneur. After all, he’s just a man with an idea.

So it seems like city farms and hyperloops have more in common to each other than just “controlled” environments.

I-25 Federal Upgrades vs Federal Experiment for Colorado Hyperloop

I-25 map in the United States

 

If I-25 is so busy, why isn’t there other transportation systems in place to relieve the volume?

The Colorado politician that now seek Federal funding for upgrades for I-25 once said that the Federal Department of Transportation isn’t needed.  Should we have confidence in our politicians to think a Colorado Hyperloop a priority?

The latest news on the situation, by Erin Udell of the Coloradoan, notes that communities along Northern I-25 section don’t even want the “upgrades.”

“Those communities worked tirelessly to make I-25 a priority and successfully got additional lane capacity, which they planned for, raised money for, worked hard for,” said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway. “Now, you have CDOT coming in saying, ‘Well, we need to add lane capacity up to Highway 14, and we’re going to toll it.’ ”

“That’s where the disagreement comes in. We’re saying it’s unfair,” Conway said. “These communities … they deferred projects, they prioritized I-25 and were reaping the benefits of years of planning when CDOT came in and said they want to take existing free lanes that have been bought and paid for by taxpayers, and they want to toll them.”

CDOT does not have the funds,  so the communities along I-25 are planning independently.

The communities involved in the coalition — Windsor, Mead, Berthoud and Johnstown — all line the north I-25 corridor and, according to Conway, must give CDOT their approval before it can move forward with any possible changes. Other communities that line the corridor include Erie, Fort Collins, Loveland, Dacono and Frederick.

“There isn’t a north-south split. It’s quite the contrary,” Conway said. “Fort Collins and Loveland have been very open-minded about discussing how we can deal with this issue.”

“I think, with the collaborative effort that’s been shown, we can come up with some creative solutions – some that are destined for success.”

The Colorado Hyperloop could possibly be a creative solution for the entire state!

The fight’in Greeley Tribune ends this post with their article: Gardner will try to secure federal funding for Interstate 25 improvements

He said he agrees with concerns raised by the North I-25 Coalition at a meeting this week and pledged to initiate discussions in Washington, D.C., regarding including I-25 in the transportation bill.

“At a time when the I-25 corridor has seen its traffic population grow by more than 425 percent over the past 20 years, it is now more important than ever to ensure that northern Colorado has the infrastructure to support our evolving economy,” Gardner said in a news release. “Local officials have estimated that the outdated interstate system has cost the area $56 million, proof that it is far past time to address this issue.”

Says the man who wanted to disband the Department of Transportation.

Will the cost in upgrading I-25 be more than the cost in building a experimental Colorado Hyperloop that follows the same route?

Perhaps we all could look into the future and see a need for a I-25 mirroring Colorado Hyperloop.