The Musk Hyperloop: Hype or the Real Deal?

The hyperloop has long been presented as the brainchild of Elon Musk; however, the media coverage of this futuristic mode of travel has not given potential or future consumers the entire story.

The definition of the hyperloop is a high-speed train that can theoretically travel up to 800 mph through a tube propelled by magnets; they are a form of vac-trains. The concept of the hyperloop is not revolutionary; it was first proposed as early as 1799 as a high-speed train that travels through a tube, with a lack of air that allowed the train to go faster with less friction.

Yet, many people credit the idea solely to Elon Musk. The entrepreneur, who heads up SpaceX and Tesla, created The Boring Company which theoretically aims to create a network of underground tunnels for vehicles to move very quickly through in dense urban areas.

Musk has been a source of controversy after he tweeted that he received verbal government approval for The Boring Company to build an “underground NY-Phi-Balt-DC Hyperloop.”

The tweet Musk sent out confirming that the Hyperloop had “verbal government approval.”

Media outlets were quick to criticize Musk’s use of “verbal government approval,” as CNN criticized that “Musk didn’t say what government official gave him a “verbal” OK for the project. CNN noted that it’s not clear that anyone would have the ability to sign off on such a project single-handedly, much less verbally. Acquiring all the state and local permits necessary to build a hyperloop would undoubtedly be “a complex, time-consuming task.”

However, the CNN article then goes on to say that the hyperloop is “Musk’s idea.”

Despite the way it is presented by many news outlets, Musk has not actually created anything except a 58-page outline of his implausible idea and left it to someone else to finish it off,” according to Ryan Bradley of the MIT Technology Review.

Crediting Musk for every development in the progression of the hyperloop  may have something to do with the fact that Musk has already stated in one interview that, “If it was my top priority, I could probably get it done in one or two years.”

Wired Magazine acts as one of the only critical voices, reminding people that,“Musk’s much-lauded hyperloop technology doesn’t actually exist yet.”

They also call out Musk on being mostly talk on many of his big plans such as beating extinction by transporting millions of people to Mars or making most places on Earth no more than 25 minutes away by 2020.

However, the most recent developments in hyperloop technology have made progress making “Musk’s idea” into actual technology.  

A company called Hyperloop One tested their technology and set a record hyperloop speed, logging 200 mph on their test track just outside of Las Vegas.   

However, the Verge article that posted this, once again, gave credit to Elon Musk–saying that “nearly four years to the day after Elon Musk first published his plans for the system.”  

Even though the Verge acknowledges that, “If you compare the existing systems against Musk’s original specifications, you can see a number of compromises…they add up to a significant change from what Musk originally proposed.”

Despite the fact that the original brainchild is older than Musk by hundreds of years, there has been a significant movement by the media to give him credit for any development in hyperloop technology. Though Musk has popularized hyperloop technology, he has not used his resources to actually build anything–all while media coverage has given less attention to the actual companies that are developing the technology to make hyperloop travel possible.

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