By: Yimeng Han
Elon Musk, best known for founding successful companies including Paypal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, announced via Twitter that he planned to create a new, open-source form of transportation. Musk claims that his new super-train (or “Hyperloop”) allows for passengers to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco (a distance of 380 miles) in just 30 minutes, a time that beats even air travel.
Minimal details for the Hyperloop system were first introduced during the D11 Conference in May 2013. Described enigmatically by Musk as “a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air-hockey table,” the concept received attention at the time for both its claims and its mysterious unveiling.
A product can easily turn into vaporware, however, if public perception and interest drops at any point in its development. Musk is currently teasing the Hyperloop through Twitter, despite withholding most information until August 12, when he promised to release plans for public critiquing. This isn’t an unusual strategy for him — Musk’s marketing prowess, which encourages consumer participation, is the reason he was able to spin existent technology into products that people would understand and desire. Whether this strategy, which worked so well for his previous projects, will catalyze the Hyperloop into reality is something only time can tell.