Colorado’s “retro-futuristic” Hyperloop

Hopefully the Hyperloop will not be based on Londons plans in the video above but something more reasonable below…

Sure the Hyperloop looks like a subway that is above ground. But what sets it aside from the retro subway is the “futuristic” speed and high quality efficacy.

In order for the hyperloop to be built, we need to look around the world at other transport systems. If we will find a piece of one system that sets it apart from others, in a good way, those elements should be included in the hyperloop.  The Colorado Hyperloop should be a “transport enthusiast’s paradise”.

The “retro-futuristic” comes from an article from the Guardian this morning:

Cities in motion: transport is as key to urban character as buildings or accents

Kicking off a new series on how people move through cities, we look at how trains and traffic reveal the way a place sees itself

The author of the article, Colin Marshall, is an expert in cities and culture. Strangely, he has not written a blog post on the hyperloop. Yet, he nails what has already been built:

 “American cities don’t usually represent themselves with elements of transit – apart, that is, from the classic yellow school bus.

Regular American city buses, marginalised due to the supposed poverty of their riders, often end up providing an even more inconvenient, unpleasant riding experience than its school buses. Gearing public transport towards the bottom of the socioeconomic scale, especially a bottom seen as isolated from or in conflict with the majority, impedes the popularity and thus implementation of improvements. Dedicating a bus lane in Los Angeles has proven a task comparable to the labours of Hercules.

The bicycle in America has only just begun to escape similar associations. Most designations of bike-friendliness have gone not to proper cities but college towns: Davis, Boulder, Long Beach, Iowa City – places that, while pleasant enough, command little national, let alone international import. Modest Portland, Oregon, the US city in which I most enjoy cycling, feels like a Tokyo or Seoul by comparison. Yet despite its reputation as a paradise for alternative transport, I always notice suspiciously few normally clothed riders on the road there with me. Ride a bike in any of America’s supposedly top cities to do so, and you come to know the still-strong American genius for branding, as opposed to the faltering American genius for execution. When Los Angeles laid down its first high-profile cycle lane, the rain washed it mostly away within months.

Even as a city’s forms of transport empower us, they limit us, reducing us to a narrow set of obsessions: New Yorkers’ compulsive but futile questions about when the train will come; Angelenos’ sad, Sisyphean quest for free parking; Copenhageners’ budgeting for their next bicycle when their current one inevitably gets stolen; Londoners’ ceaseless insistence that the whole of their infrastructure lies more or less in ruins. Yet they can also make manifest the human ingenuity that makes such improbable accretions as cities work in the first place.

This goes a fair way to explaining the seething frustrations of many American cities, composed in large part of poor people in cars, made ever poorer by their associated costs. Peñalosa has also spoken of our “need to walk, just as birds need to fly”, suggesting a city’s need for “pedestrian infrastructure shows respect for human dignity”. And indeed, you can learn as much about a city from observing how people walk in it as how they ride, cycle, and drive. I did so in London, whose citizens cross the street any time they please, regardless of what the traffic signal says. Me and my Los Angeles compatriots remain, alas, too cowed by the pricey threat of jaywalking tickets, the monstrously aggressive (and in my experience mythical) spectre of the “LA driver”, and the sheer width of the roads to do the same.

We can learn from London, I told myself, and the thought cheered me. It had to, as I’d wound up stranded by the tube strike, an illuminating transport phenomenon which had me revising my opinions about the city all over again. We can learn from London, yes, but let’s not learn everything from it.

Luckily it is people like Mr Marshall that can find the essence in the human reaction to transport. He and others will hopefully provide insight as to how the hyperloop is developed and built.

New Space Tax Breaks Model for Hyperloop

The Colorado Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports that aerospace industries are pushing for more tax breaks. The aptly titled “Colorado spacecraft tax break gets stratospheric support” reports a bit of the lobbying effort by a couple of companies mainly spearheaded by the “Metro Denver Economic Development Corp”. Ed writes:

California, Florida and Texas all have similar tax breaks to HB 1178, sponsored by House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver and House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland — and are ahead of Colorado in their ability to store satellites and attract aerospace companies, several people testified.

…legislators spanning the spectrum from liberal to conservative all got behind the attempt to boost an industry that has been targeted by state and Denver-area leaders.

However, The Denver Post’s Kristen Painter reports on a very interesting political landscape:

The national aerospace landscape is shifting dramatically as a result of a number of factors, including federal budget constraints, which the state’s aerospace cluster has relied on heavily.

Colorado — which has long rested on its educated workforce, academic and research institutions, high quality of life and relatively low cost of living — is at risk of losing its place of aerospace dominance.

The state punches above its weight, employing the third-most aerospace-related workers, behind California and Florida but ahead of Texas and Arizona. Colorado is the only top-five aerospace state without a sales-and-use-tax exemption.

Kristen brings up a very important point. The Aerospace industry is already heavily subsidized and historically funded via federal government. Lean startups like the Colorado Hyperloop can’t act like a Space corp because there isn’t enough money. Thats why SpaceX has to radically cut R&D and launch costs just to even be in business. The hyperloop will need to follow the lean SpaceX model.

So with a proven space industry, and competition from other states that are incentivising New Space, Colorado seemingly needs to get in the “game.”

The bill includes the tax exemption for anything “QUALIFIED PROPERTY FOR USE IN SPACE FLIGHT”… now imagine if everything that says “Space” below could be changed for “Hyperloop”. I wonder if it could still get support:

(I) A SPACE VEHICLE AND ANY COMPONENT THEREOF;
13 (II) TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY TO BE PLACED OR USED
14 ABOARD A SPACE VEHICLE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER SUCH PERSONAL
15 PROPERTY IS TO BE ULTIMATELY RETURNED TO THE STATE FOR
16 SUBSEQUENT USE, STORAGE, OR OTHER CONSUMPTION; AND
17 (III) FUEL OF A QUALITY THAT IS NOT ADAPTABLE FOR USE IN AN
18 ORDINARY MOTOR VEHICLE AND THAT IS PRODUCED, SOLD, AND USED
19 EXCLUSIVELY FOR SPACE FLIGHT.
20 (b) “SPACE FLIGHT” MEANS ANY FLIGHT DESIGNED FOR
21 SUBORBITAL, ORBITAL, OR INTERPLANETARY TRAVEL BY A SPACE VEHICLE.
22 (c) “SPACE VEHICLE” MEANS ANY TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY
23 THAT HAS SPACE FLIGHT CAPABILITY AND IS INTENDED FOR SPACE FLIGHT
24 AND INCLUDES, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, AN ORBITAL SPACE FACILITY,
25 SPACE PROPULSION SYSTEM, SATELLITE, OR SPACE STATION OF ANY KIND.
26 (3) THE TAX EXEMPTION ESTABLISHED BY THIS SECTION MAY NOT
27 BE DENIED TO A TAXPAYER BECAUSE OF A FAILURE, POSTPONEMENT,
-3- HB14-11781 DESTRUCTION, OR CANCELLATION OF A LAUNCH OF A SPACE VEHICLE.

Wouldnt it be nice to have the lobbying firepower of something like this for the hyperloop?

The Hyperloop lobbying strategy should probably model off of this effort.

Also, it’s kinda ironic that the bill has the following:

SECTION 4. Safety clause. The general assembly hereby finds,
4 determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate
5 preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.

Spaceflight is a very dangerous! Surely the Hyperloop is necessary for the preservation of public peace, health and safety too!

Stations of the Hyperloop

Getting ideas developed about how the hyperloop will actually work in regards to stations and boarding is ongoing. The latest big post about Hyperloop Stations comes from a Wired post and the designer Serge Roux. The images of the station are amazing.

Serge Roux Hyperloop Station

Amazing. There are alot of great ideas in this post.

The main advantages of this solution are as follow:
Reduced footprint. Achieving peak flow rates by multiplexing platforms and turntables (initial intent) would requires anywhere from 100% to 200% more footprint depending on implementation.

System simplification. By removing the need for turntables and potential multiple airlocks, the system is robust and less prone to local failures

Increased embark/disembark time. This station design allows 20% more time to embark or disembark than the original intent (from 2.5 to 3minutes), without sacrificing throughput

Design consistency. This station makes Hyperloop, well, an actual loop.

 

Read more here: http://dev.sergeroux.com/?portfolio=hyperloop-passenger-station

Hyperloop needs more publicity, LA subway/light rail Map in the Near Future

LA futuristic subway map

Saw the below Gizmodo article based on the the movie Her. The image above is from the blog post, and is a  subway map of their current system plus futuristic additions. However, it lacks a hyperloop. There needs to be more of a push for films, anime and other sci-fi mediums to put hyperloop designs into their media.  The public needs to think that hyperloops are the future…

Keep in mind this is a fictional work of design, created for a film, so it’s not geographically accurate, but you have to appreciate the vision and wit in this map that most of us have been fantasizing about for decades. The system ranges from the Angeles National Forest to Malibu over five lines, with stops at some familiar places and some completely invented (I especially love the stations named “Nail Spot” and “Hair Salon”). A new neighborhood, Melrose Center, which I would guess to be around modern-day Koreatown, has become a major hub, bigger than present-day downtown. And for those who bemoan our current transit options at the airport: The train not only goes to LAX now, but it makes THREE stops!

Most notable are the paths of some of the lines. While the gold/teal path almost traces the real-life Gold and Expo Lines (which will bring light rail to Santa Monica in 2015), others seem to mimic current freeway routes. There’s a junction named 101 Freeway Axis, and the orange line running over the Sepulveda Pass looks like it basically traces the 405 Freeway. Who knows? With this system up and running, we might be constructing the light rail lines over abandoned freeways in the future.

McFetridge would especially like to call attention to the fictional transit authority named Los Angeles Metro Light Rail (LAMLR) and the logo he designed for it: “From the Summit to the Sea.” Not a bad tagline to aspire to, L.A.

Gizmodo and Reddit

 

The Future Is Already Under Construction

The title of this post, The Future Is Already Under Construction, came from an exhibition called Rights of Way: Mobility and the City at the BSA Space Center for Architecture and Design.

The Future Is Under Construction photo
The Future Is Under Construction

I think it sums up the Colorado Hyperloop pretty well. I will be going back there to take more notes. Below is a description of the exhibition from:

 

Exhibition Opening:
December 5, 2013

Exhibition Closing:
May 26, 2014

Rights of Way: Mobility and the City is a global exploration of mobility and transportation in cities. The exhibition features dozens of examples of visionary urban thinking, showing how the city is shaped by the ways people move through it.

Curated by James Graham and Meredith Miller of MILLIGRAM-office, Rights of Waydemonstrates that our urban environment is the result of constant negotiation among designers, policy makers, the private sector, and individual residents. By claiming that access to mobility is access to opportunity and that everyone has his or her own “right of way,” this future-oriented show reveals how those public rights are always at play in the shared commons of the city. The exhibition examines large-scale urban futures, contemporary examples of innovative design for transit and public space, historical attempts at remaking the city, and individual adaptations of mobility systems. Rights of Way also includes three projects from the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award, focusing on three megaregions: the Pearl River Delta in China’s Guangdong Province; São Paulo; and the Boston–Washington, DC (BosWash) Corridor. Displays include renderings, drawings, photography, videos, infographics, and a media library that allows visitors to delve further into the issues raised by the exhibition content.

 

 

Hyperloop Must be Built on Site

The first Hyperloop to be built will have huge development costs. Development and construction costs might be diminished if the hyperloop were to be built and developed on site. Unfortunately, I think people are being scared away from even attempting to undertake the hyperloop due to these costs.

“It’s not the manufacturing costs worrying them,” he said. “The costs they’re worried about are the development costs.” A big part of that development cost would be to build a prototype that would highlight for engineers things Musk didn’t account for or anticipate in his proposal, things that could come out only in real-world tests.

But, I think they are underestimating innovation. Having manufactures build huge pieces transportation infrasturure offsite increases delays, and decreases innovative design.  Two examples, one from Boston and the other the local Denver RTD commuter rail:

A long-awaited fleet of MBTA commuter rail cars, delivered 2½ years late by the South Korean manufacturer, is now so plagued by mechanical, engineering, and software problems that it has to be shipped to a facility in Rhode Island to be fitted with new parts. 

The other example is from the great Denver Urbanism blog.

Inevitably (and understandably so), questions are raised as to why the shells for the trains are being made somewhere other than the United States. In response, RTD has stated this:

“There are no U.S.-owned builder of electric commuter rail cars. However, Hyundai Rotem also will be assembling these cars in the United States with home-grown parts and labor. After the steel shells are fabricated in Korea, they are being shipped to Hyundai’s assembly plant in Philadelphia for the rest of the work. They comply with Buy America rules, and most of the major components are built in America including the wheels and trucks, braking system, propulsion system, train control system, floors, seats, doors, windows, HVAC and others.”

Read more about the East Rail Line at the Denver Transit Partners.

It all comes down to the policy of whoever is building they hyperloop, but I think it needs to be innovative and be built on site.

 

Making Systems of Safety

Safety is the most important aspect of any transport system, and especially of a new and untested Hyperloop. Thats why adding a device that will alert of any problems in keeping the trains at speed, distance and of whether the human/android is paying attention to the situational awareness.

So It is a bit scary that the lessons of past rail disasters have not been  taken into consideration, even if the rail line has been in use alot and forever.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/04/opinion/lessons-unlearned-on-rail-safety.html?_r=0

 

“The question for the rest of us is why that train — and thousands of other trains in commuter and freight railroads across the country — had no automated system to slow or stop it when it ran out of control.

The idea is not new.”

Exactly. Why is safety such a second thought in this country? The hyperloop must be the safest form of transport ever.

 

Energy Generating Hyperloop

If the design of the hyperloop tubes are stacked vertically vs side by side horizontally (double barrelled) it will alter the amount of area that solar PV can be installed on the top. The hyperloop will have a significant amount of space as it snakes the 317 miles along the front range.

calculating area of hyperloop solar pannels

 

Since there are so many solar companies in Colorado, it would be nice to give contracts to all of them since the work is fairly straightforward… but with utilities like Excel, and maybe Boulder’s own energy utility, it might be difficult to cut deals with these  entities.

Besides, solar is one component to the Hyperloop energy platform. What if there were Ultra-high-voltage electricity transmission along the backbone as well. This would enable power to flow efficiently for the whole length of the hyperloop and might provide redundancy if say in the north sections were snowed under, while it was sunny south of Denver.

These high efficiency lines could also bring sustainable energy from the north east of colorado (like wind energy) to the areas where it is need.

Japan has Maglev, USA got nothing

Just how far behind transportation is in the USA? Japan’s Maglev. Yet, even with their incredible transportation infrastructure, the Japanese are in a spot of trouble because the maglev project in incredibly pricy (but still not as expensive as normal-slow rail projects in the USA!).

Despite this, they are actively courting American leaders to set up the technology on the east coast corridor lines.

In my head, I still feel that the hyperloop would be cheaper to build. The smaller hyperloop pods, the sustainable solar PV on top, the Tubes arching above ground with minimal disturbance the land. All of these factors are why the hyperloop is a cheaper option than a Maglev. Also, we wouldn’t have to license the technology from Japan. Or we could work with the Japanese to build the hyperloop.

After a short googling on maglev vs hyperloop there are a number of technical challenges that both contend with. A good read  on the matter is this: http://evworld.com/blogs.cfm?authorid=173&blogid=1174

Hyperloop is the Tubes of the Internet Age

What if we didn’t have broadband, high speed rail (still do not have it in the USA) or airplanes?

Pushing for change is hard. Luckily, when the head of a federal depart, such as the FCC, wants change, things can happen pretty fast. However, they would also be in charge of regulating, and if that person(s) do not know what the hyperloop does or how it works, it will be bad.

I was happy to read this from the NYTimes article.

” “History has shown that new networks catalyze innovation, investment, ideas and ingenuity. Their spillover effects can transform society — think of the creation of industrial organizations and the standardized time zones that followed in the wake of the railroad and telegraph.”” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/business/media/fcc-chairman-calls-for-transforming-the-technology-used-by-phone-systems.html?hpw&rref=technology&_r=0

The Hyperloop is the broadband of the internet speed development. Take for example this sentence from the head of the FCC:

“The transition to broadband and I.P. services that has already begun is driven by consumers who are moving to the Internet and choosing to connect in ways not imagined just a decade ago.”

…and can be altered to…

““The transition to broadband high speed rail and I.P. airplane services that has already begun is driven by consumers who are moving to the Internet hyperloop and choosing to connect live in ways not imagined just a decade ago.”

So what if we transitioned to Hyperloop technology? What if the government in power were to push for the hyperloop?

Lets just hope we don’t get the same guy in government that thought the Internet was “a series of tubes.” Because that’s the Hyperloop.