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!

Colorado Capital Can Roll Back Hyperloop via Renewable Energy Standards

News from the Colorado State Capitol of a Senate bill that would effect a solar powered Colorado hyperloop. Senate Bill 44.

The Denver Business Journal reports:

The bill would roll back Colorado’s renewable energy goals, currently set at 30 percent by 2020 for investor-owned utilities, to half of that — or 15 percent. The goal for rural cooperatives, which currently need to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2020, would be rolled back to 15 percent under the proposal.

It is ironic that a small group Colorado citizens would want a small portion of their energy bills to contribute more to the “Brown Cloud” along the front range where most of Coloradans live.

Cleaner Hyperloop Innovations

Because its easy to make critiques at every new technological advancement, see the LED debate below, the Colorado Hyperloop would like to congratulate Gary Truesdale’s latest Hyperloop Efficiency Concept. The video below shows how he made a device that could reduce overall energy use of each hyperloop pod and tube sections by forcing air circulation in the Hyperloop system.

Hyperloop Test Fixture V2 information, Credit: Gary Truesdale
Hyperloop Test Fixture V2, Credit: Gary Truesdale

Good job Gary, keep up the innovations!

With innovations like the one above, the Colorado Hyperloop will be using the most energy efficient and lowest carbon renewable energy technology currently available. So it was interesting to read this Op-Ed in the New York Times about the recent Nobel Prize for the blue/white LED.

The winners, Shuji Nakamura, an American, and Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano, both from Japan, justly deserve their Nobel, and should be commended for creating a technology that produces the same amount of light with less energy.

But it would be a mistake to assume that LEDs will significantly reduce overall energy consumption.

The I.E.A. and I.P.C.C. estimate that the rebound could be over 50 percent globally. Recent estimates and case studies have suggested that in many energy-intensive sectors of developing economies, energy-saving technologies may backfire, meaning that increased energy consumption associated with lower energy costs because of higher efficiency may in fact result in higher energy consumption than there would have been withoutthose technologies.

That’s not a bad thing. Most people in the world, still struggling to achieve modern living standards, need to consume more energy, not less. Cheap LED and other more efficient energy technologies will be overwhelmingly positive for people and economies all over the world.

But LED and other ultraefficient lighting technologies are unlikely to reduce global energy consumption or reduce carbon emissions. If we are to make a serious dent in carbon emissions, there is no escaping the need to shift to cleaner sources of energy.

New York Times

I agree. Determining whether new energy efficient technology increases overall energy demand is a mute point. The more people there are on the planet the more energy will be used. So we must use cleaner energy.

But this is having it both ways. They really need to make it clear that the formula is: efficiency gain vs cost (monetary and environmental).

For example, just as the individual LED is wonderful, more breakthroughs in lighting are just around the corner with OLEDS.

The next big thing in lighting could be glowing sheets that use half as much energy as an equivalent fluorescent fixture and can be laminated to walls or ceilings. The sheets will contain organic LEDs, or OLEDs—the same kind of technology used in some ultrathin TVs and smartphones.

OLEDs could be used in large sheets, because organic light-emitting molecules can be deposited over large surfaces. They also run cooler than LEDs, so they don’t require elaborate heat sinks, making a lighting structure simpler. OLED lighting is 10 to 100 times more expensive than conventional lighting, but as costs come down, it could eventually replace conventional fluorescent fixtures. MIT Technology Review 

The LED Op-Ed writers are from The Breakthrough Institute, which produces a journal that focuses on many things but also on Renewables, Innovation Policy and something called EcoModernism. From their website:

RENEWABLES

Renewable energy technologies – including solar, wind, hydroelectric, and bioenergy – are essential tools in the path towards modern, low-carbon energy systems. But like all energy technologies, they have significant costs and impacts. Understanding their scalability and effects on the landscape will prove essential in crafting renewable energy innovation policy.

INNOVATION POLICY

Economists have long recognized innovation’s central importance to economic growth, but have still not come to terms with the reality that “general-purpose” technologies like electricity, microchips, and the Internet often emerge from long-term public-private partnerships. And since no two technologies are exactly alike, case studies of successful innovation policy must be carefully analyzed to spur similar successes in the future.

ECOMODERNISM

Ecomodernism is a pragmatic philosophy motivated by the belief that we can protect beautiful, wild places at the same time as  we ensure that the seven-going-on-ten billion people in the world can lead secure, free, and prosperous lives. Ecomodernists are optimistic about humanity’s ability to shape a better future – a “good Anthropocene.”
TheBreakThrough.org

Anyway, they have a lot of smart people in that institute but they have yet to publish any findings on a future Hyperloop. Hopefully, the Colorado Hyperloop will be of interest to them.

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:  

Walking vs Bikes vs Cars vs Bus vs Subway vs Train vs Hyperloop

“Why cars remain so appealing even in cities with decent public transit – The Washington Post”
http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/07/why-cars-remain-so-appealing-even-in-cities-with-decent-public-transit/
Decent article that says no matter the cost of transportation (like ownership costs of a car or the cheapness of a bike), time is often deciding factor for Americans. This is precisely why the Colorado Hyperloop is a good match for time, distance and cost.

Superconductors and NO2 Monitoring Help Colorado Hyperloop

A bulk superconductor levitated by a permanent magnet Credit: University of Cambridge
A bulk superconductor levitated by a permanent magnet Credit: University of Cambridge

These two technology advances will help with the implementation of the Colorado Hyperloop. They also had large converging in the news sphere.

New record for a trapped field in a superconductor, beating a record that has stood for more than a decade, could herald the arrival of materials in a broad range of fields. 

The research demonstrates the potential of high-temperature superconductors for applications in a range of fields, including flywheels for energy storage, ‘magnetic separators’, which can be used in mineral refinement and pollution control, and in high-speed levitating monorail trains. – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/cambridge-team-breaks-superconductor-world-record#sthash.rvWV1fP1.dpuf

Instead of monorails, lets think of hyperloops.

Next, the Denver haze/brown cloud has been monitored from Space!

Anyone living in a major U.S. city for the past decade may have noticed a change in the air. The change is apparent in new NASA satellite images unveiled this week that demonstrate the reduction of air pollution across the country.
After ten years in orbit, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite has been in orbit sufficiently long to show that people in major U.S. cities are breathing less nitrogen dioxide – a yellow-brown gas that can cause respiratory problems.

Denver N02
Image Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio/T. Schindler

Satellite data show that Denver has seen a 22 percent decrease in nitrogen dioxide between the 2005-2007 (left) and 2009-2011 (right) periods. NASA’s Discover-AQ, a multi-year airborne mission, is flying this summer in Denver to learn more about the region’s wide range of air pollutants.

Nitrogen dioxide is one of the six common pollutants regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect human health. Alone it can impact the respiratory system, but it also contributes to the formation of other pollutants including ground-level ozone and particulates, which also carry adverse health effects. The gas is produced primarily during the combustion of gasoline in vehicle engines and coal in power plants. It’s also a good proxy for the presence of air pollution in general.
Air pollution has decreased even though population and the number of cars on the roads have increased. The shift is the result of regulations, technology improvements and economic changes, scientists say.

In fact, about 142 million people still lived in areas in the United States with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the EPA. Also, high levels of air pollution remain an issue in many other parts of the world, according to the global view from satellites.
“While our air quality has certainly improved over the last few decades, there is still work to do – ozone and particulate matter are still problems,” said Bryan Duncan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Decision makers and regulatory agencies like EPA have long relied on data from ground sites to inform air quality science and forecasts. NASA, while not directly involved with regulation or making forecasts, provides a consistent, global, space-based view – not possible from any other source – of when and where air pollution occurs.

The hyperloop will further decrease the use of gas engines and coal power plants.

So lets hope those superconductors get implemented soon into transportation and lets hope the satellites monitoring the NO2 continue to work for years to come!

Energy Cost Per Colorado Hyperloop Ride

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Currently all types of public transportation range from very cheap very expensive. Could the Hyperloop be the Uber of the train system? iE cheaper than taxi’s? Could cost be determined by energy/co2 expended? Maybe the first Hyperloop rides will be really expensive because the PV will not have paid for the system yet but at least it will be along the top of the Hyperloop.  Why not have trams that are electrically powered been retro fitted with PV along the tram line? Why aren’t these systems more sustainable?

New EPA Action Helps Colorado Hyperloop

EPA Logo

EPA Logo

The Colorado Hyperloop will benefit from the recent changes by the EPA force State’s to create power from other than high carbon dioxide sources.

According to CPR, Colorado is well positioned for the upcoming changes that President Obama had the EPA create rules to cut carbon pollution. The heart of the matter is this:

“Climate and weather disasters in 2012 cost the American economy more than $100 billion,” the agency says in a document accompanying the proposal.

“We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a news release about the plan. “Our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation and create jobs.”

– See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/npr-story/epa-unveils-new-proposal-targeting-greenhouse-gases#sthash.Gj2Xokl6.dpuf

Specifically, for Colorado:

Colorado became the first state with a voter-approved renewable energy standard (PDF) 10 years ago when voters approved Amendment 37 (PDF). The law requires investor-owned electric utilities to provide 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, with 3 percent coming from distributed generation.

The law has forced energy producers to switch from coal to natural gas and the transition has been relatively smooth.

In 2013, 64 percent of the electricity generated in Colorado came from coal, 20 percent from natural gas and 17 percent from renewable energy resources, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Currently, Colorado has 12 coal plants.

– See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/colorado-well-positioned-pollution-standards#sthash.dqPzowrD.dpu

A more detailed look at Colorado’s energy is below:

Colorado Quick Facts

Last updated March 27, 2014.

Basically Colorado has lots of Coal, but also a lot, and growing, renewables. Luckily, and hopefully, the Colorado Hyperloop will be powered solely by renewables.

Also, there was a OpEd in the NYTimes about taxing gas for maintaining the highway system. It can be found here, but more interestingly were the comments section. Specifically these two:

Mary Ann & Ken Bergman

Ashland, OR7 hours ago

Mr. Schank advocates using general funds to pay for maintaining and improving our transportation system, arguing that a good transportation system benefits us all, whether or not we personally use it. On the other hand, the nation needs to move toward greater energy efficiency and away from high CO2 pollution rates, and taxing gas-guzzling vehicles higher than others should be effective in making people switch to electric and hybrid cars or use public transportation if the gas tax is made high enough. Also, it’s not fair for those who leave a smaller carbon footprint to subsidize those who leave a big one through general fund taxation. The present gas tax serves a useful purpose; it just needs to be increased, with perhaps more flexibility in how it is spent.

One step that really needs to be taken is to get much of our commercial transportation out of large trucks on the road and instead onto rail. Tax the trucks enough to pay to improve the rail lines, which are in deplorable shape in many places. Shipping by trains instead of trucks would reduce CO2 pollution by as much as 90 percent and be cheaper in energy costs as well if rail lines were up to snuff. It would also make our roads, especially interstates, less crowded and safer.

If Mr. Schank thinks that raising the gas tax is a non-starter, he certainly should know that raising general revenue taxes is even more of a non-starter in our current Congress.

And the piece de resistance…

Meredith

 NYC 7 hours ago

Other modern countries use general revenues for transport, and for national health care. These these are crucial services directly affecting their economies and citizens’ lives. Same for their excellent education system, not relying on local property taxes. And not putting their grads in lifetime debt for college. 

Americans say, I don’t have kids in school, or I won’t get pregnant, or I don’t use that bridge–so don’t tax me for it. 

This idea that payment for something should come only from those directly using a service is destructive to our economy and well being. It’s been used to drum up opposition to spending across the board—transport, education, health care taxes, senior benefit programs, etc. Our political polarization and do nothing congress is a cause and result. 

Pres Obama’s recent infrastructure speech made stark foreign comparisons. The US ranks 19th in infrastructure/transport spending among nations. Europe spends 2X what we do, and China 4X. This spending creates jobs.
These facts didn’t get much media coverage. 

Obama said almost half of Americans have no access to transport. That means they can’t get to jobs, or even look for a job, or get to shops. Some may be past working age, or have to rely on others. But they’re stuck and isolated. What a negative ripple effect on the economy. So our lack of infrastructure spending is directly related to our wealth inequality, downward mobility, and weak consumer demand.

 

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.