back to article Hoverbikes, Hyperloops and sub-orbital hijinks: Yes, the '3rd, 4th and 5th Dimensions of Travel' are coming soon

Bored of just two dimensions of travel? The third, fourth and fifth are on the way, according to a new report. Lurking in the increasingly retro-looking Tomorrowland in Walt Disney World is the throwback ride, Carousel of Progress. Delightfully optimistic, the animatronics let rip with a Sherman Brothers song, "There's a Great …

  1. KBeee

    Future travel predictions

    Where's my bloody Jet Pack?

    1. OssianScotland Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Future travel predictions

      Same place as my "meal in a pill", I think

      Icon: never mind, I just found them...

    2. Timbo

      Re: Future travel predictions

      "Where's my bloody Jet Pack?"

      That would be Willy - he has it !!

  2. Martin Summers Silver badge

    I think I'd rather get lubed up and use the hyperloop tunnel as a giant slip and slide rather than be shot down it in a vacuum. Am I incorrect in thinking you could get pasted up the wall of the capsule if something goes wrong? Not for me even sedated I think!

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Nothing so simple

      Hyperloop has so many potential modes of failure that the word adequately describes what would happen to your various body parts in any serious accident.

      1. NiceCuppaTea

        Re: Nothing so simple

        Isnt hyperloop just those tubes off futurama?

        1. Paul Herber Silver badge

          Re: Nothing so simple

          that word 'just' ....

        2. HildyJ Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Nothing so simple

          But Elon's behind it and Teslas never crash with autopilot enabled.

      2. c1ue

        Re: Nothing so simple

        Indeed - just how much traction will hyperloop retain after the first passengers die of asphyxiation due to their vehicle springing a leak?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nothing so simple

          I know, right! Do you remember that time when people used to fly in those things called aeroplanes? Well, until one of them crashed, obviously, and then no-one ever flew in one again and the entire airline industry just never happened.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing so simple

        I know, right? What kind of jokers came up with this idea? SpaceX? What do they know about putting people in small capsules and sending those capsules into a vacuum?!

        1. Martin Summers Silver badge

          Re: Nothing so simple

          It's a vacuum in a tunnel, not space....

      4. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Re: Nothing so simple

        >"Hyperloop has so many potential modes of failure"

        Successful or not, Hyperloop is literally a pipe-dream.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Not to worry

      "Am I incorrect in thinking you could get pasted up the wall of the capsule if something goes wrong?"

      If anything goes wrong with a hyperloop vehicle traveling at speed, passengers will probably be reduced to a thin scum of organic material so quickly that they won't even notice there's a problem. Might want to get your will up to date before embarking.

  3. Drew Scriver Silver badge

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

    Virginia is building a 'high speed' rail project between Washington, DC (capital of the USA) and Richmond, VA (capital of Virginia).

    High speed: faster than a car can get you there during rush hour (think traffic jams).

    Top speed: 60-90 miles per hour (96-144 km/h) - frequent stops are planned.

    Duration of the trip between Richmond and DC: TBD - even though they've already starting laying the tracks...

    As far as I know Hyperloop was not considered. Even though construction has already begun, one would think that this option should be on the table.

    Looks like VA is finally entering the 20th (sic) century!

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

      Looks like VA is finally entering the 20th (sic) century!

      Top speed only 60-90 miles per hour? More like the 19th century...

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

        The world record was 82mph from 1854 until the 1930s, when the Flying Scotsman and the exquisitely beautiful Mallard got it up to mid 120s mph.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

      OK whilst Top Speed trains of only 144km/h is ridiculously slow, going a train line instead of a pie in the sky Hyperloop is a no brainer. If you want them to have a bit more of a sky thinking then maybe they could look at Maglev, but that is a LOT more expensive than a standard train, and you and your fellow passengers will be paying for it.

      Still why on earth it would be limited to those speeds is something that should be being asked. ICE's here in Germany hit 300+km/h, even the Regionals that stop everywhere hit 200km/h. 140km/h max is just ridiculously slow.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

        "If you want them to have a bit more of a sky thinking then maybe they could look at Maglev, but that is a LOT more expensive than a standard train"

        Maglev levitation is relatively cheap. The Shanghai Maglev only needs about 15kW for the actual levitation part (it uses far more power for the airconditioning).

        The massive power draw comes from punching a train-sized hole through the air at speed - and also comes with a LOT of complaints from the neighbours (the maglev system now runs at reduced speeds in the evening)

        Hyperloop _is_ maglev - in a partially evacuated tube - Which reduces the power requirements dramatically (you use a lot less energy pulling a mild vacuum than fighting friction) along with the noise emissions.

        Keeping cabins pressurised is a solved technology - we've been doing it on aircraft for decades and hyperloop vehicles can be made with considerably thicker skin. No, the pax don't get smeared if there's a leak. It's called airbraking and no, the vacuum tubes aren't needed below about 70km/h/40mph, so things can be routed at low speed without the "tubes" before moving to vacuum for high speed transit

        The biggest problem with vac trains is economics. Transportation systems don't make money on passengers - passenger train systems need massive government subsidies everywhere. That means to make them work they need to be able to carry freight and to carry freight they MUST be able to be containerised which means making the system big enough to hold standard containers. As soon as the cargo needs repacking along the way, the economics of the trasport system are destroyed.

        In a working system the routing system doesn't ovberly care if pods are passenger or freight. The only difference would be the origin and destination points

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

      As far as I know Hyperloop was not considered. Even though construction has already begun, one would think that this option should be on the table.

      Oh, i'm sure it was considered. For about five minutes.

      On a trainline, you have a limited number of trains on track split into segments. A single train carriage has capacity for 76, and a train typically tows 16 of them. Therefore, a single train fully loaded with people seated (and nobody standing) would shift 1216 people. Assuming that you can unload people in 20 minutes and then send it back the other way then that's 3 per hour, so 1216 * 3 = 3648 per hour. You can leverage far greater numbers along the infrastructure by having lots of different platforms so the throughput can be a lot higher with multiple trains unloading.

      Hyperloop is currently vapourware, but the sketch that does exist is a single pod per track with 16 people in it. Assuming that you can get everybody out of one and then send it back in 5 minutes (probably optimistic, but thought exercise) then that's 12 hyperloops per hour. 16 * 12 = 192 people shifted per hour and the design at the moment doesn't allow for different platforms or stops en-route.

      Think of it like Concorde. Technically cool, but commercially destroyed by slower transport that carries large number of people slowly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

        There can be multiple pods per tube. The only spacing limit is how quick you can load the pod and insert into the airlock combined with what ever safety spacing is required. I agree that it may not match the total carrying capacity per hour of the fully loaded train but it isn't as bad as you suggest.

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Pipe Dreams

          If you have only a 16 passenger capacity and multiple stops then you are going to be decelerating and accelerating the vehicle just to transfer one or two passengers per stop. The energy cost alone would be hard to justify. And with a single tube per direction you could not have express vehicles bypassing stops.

          It would seem to me that, so far as hyperloop is possible, it would be more practical as a single point-to-point system intended to replace smaller regional airports.

      2. Drew Scriver Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

        The limit of 192 pph (passengers per hour) seems low. If the system would load/unload more like a hybrid between a subway system and an amusement park ride I would estimate the pph-limit to be much higher.

        Found some interesting data (from Hyperloop):

        - Estimated cost of Hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco is $6B. Compare to estimate of $68B for conventional HSR.

        - Capacity is estimated at 840 passengers per hour.

        For $6B a piece you could even build multiple Hyperloops and increase the capacity that way...

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

          In which case at 16 persons per pod Hyperloop expects to do 52.5 journeys per hour, requiring a turnaround time of ~50 seconds per pod. Opinions as to the feasibility of that may differ.

          1. Drew Scriver Silver badge

            Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

            Hyperloop documentation says 28 passengers per pod.

            Some of the major train connections in Europe stop for less than 120 seconds. Subways stop for far shorter periods.

            It seems to me that planes have a far lower efficiency as far as passenger-per-hour is concerned.

    4. Timbo

      Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

      It's all well and good these futurists predicting high speed travel, whether it be via HyperLoop, Maglev, HS2 or some soon to be developed tech, invented by some billionaire.

      But the fundamental issue is not so much about travelling fast...but the issue(s) arising once you get to that speed...and then have to stop... as a failure to stop "under control" could lead to significant health issues for the travellers. :-(

      (Stopping "out of control" is easy..but you will not get any repeat customers).

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

      "As far as I know Hyperloop was not considered"

      What the rest of the world considers high speed rail wasn't considered either. This is just express commuter rail

      Vac train technology has been feasible and discussed for decades. The holdback has always been cost.

      DidYouKnow: The USA once had the best public transportation systems in the world. The envy of all.

      These were systemically dismantled and the technology destroyed in the late 1940s and 1950s.

      As one example: it was possible to get across greater Los Angeles on light rail signficantly faster than it can be driven today - and many/most of Los Angeles' freeways are run on old light rail right-of-ways

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

        DidYouKnow: The USA once had the best public transportation systems in the world. The envy of all.

        These were systemically dismantled and the technology destroyed in the late 1940s and 1950s.

        Not really. The same was said in Britain about the same time.

        The more honest truth is that from 1840-1930 there was no real alternative for taking a train over a long distance, and then a trolleybus or similar over a short distance so these systems had an absolute monopoly in the transport market having displaced the stagecoach. (the original carriage and 4 horses!)

        Then better (ie tarmac) roads came along in the 1930's, and at the same time along came nicer cars and cheap fuel.

        Hence, traveling by car or bus was (and still is) cheaper than by public transport except in some specific circumstances. Result, people buy cars and drive themselves and don't use public transport. Public transport use declines, and it starts costing money to run rather than making money. The companies running it then give up because they can't make money (or if public owned the local government stops throwing money at them) and the service is closed, and people then cry that there was some conspiracy afoot because the service was good before it started losing money and went out of business.

  4. iron Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Dear Frost & Sullivan, I read those books back in the 70s too. All those inventions were due by the 1990s and we (should) have been using them for 30 years now.

    Forty years on and the "futurologists" are still predicting the same future - in 10 years time!

    1. monty75

      That's the secret to futurology: always predict ten years into the future. It's close enough to feel imminent but far enough away that by the time it arrives everyone's forgotten what was predicted.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        So far in my experience, anyone who either describes themselves or allows others to describe them as a futurist is full of crap.

        All you have to do is read a couple of Sunday supplements and the New Scientist and then quote a couple of their articles and you can sit back and let people think you are a man/woman/person of vision.

        Personally, I am waiting for gene splicing sp that I can grow wings, then I won't need an air taxi or a Furzemobile.

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Joke

          Just curious - do you run everywhere? I mean legs let you do that you know. Do you really think Wings will use less energy then legs? Do you think they'll make you any less lazy? :P

          1. Chris G Silver badge

            Frankly, I think having wings is equally as ridiculous as air taxis and hoverbikes but I like flying, have tried paragliders (accident waiting to happen) and have a couple of hundred hours logged on single engines.

            I live on the edge of a Spanish national park, the thermals in summer are amazing judging by the eagles and kites.

    2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      The future just isn't what it used to be.

  5. JDX Gold badge

    Sub-orbital flight

    Hard to see this getting far given the environmental focus permeating the airline industry

    1. Getmo

      Re: Sub-orbital flight

      Elon's starship is supposed to use methane+LOX, I'm not sure of the byproducts from burning methane, it's supposed to be fairly clean, no?

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Sub-orbital flight

        Byproducts -- water, Carbon Dioxide. Probably a bit of Carbon Monoxide. Maybe a few Nitrogen Oxides. Perhaps a bit of uncombusted Methane.

        1. AdamT

          Re: Sub-orbital flight

          Not sure about Nitrogen Oxides - you get those from internal combustion e.g. jet engines, petrol/diesel engines because the nitrogen is in there with the fuel and oxygen (and compressed, hot, etc.). Whilst the rocket exhaust is obviously hot, I think the only possibility for nitrogen oxides would just be from the surface of the exhaust reacting with the external atmosphere at normal(ish) pressure. At this point I need to confess to having no idea what difference that makes...

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Sub-orbital flight

        "I'm not sure of the byproducts from burning methane, it's supposed to be fairly clean, no?"

        Byproducts from burning: clean

        Obtaining it is another matter. There isn't enough "renewables capacity to make the quantities required and we don't have any working high temperature molten salt nuclear power plants (LFTRs) which could produce it from wate(hydrogen)+CO2 (having done that, you can tack on extra carbon to make liquid fuels where electricity isn't practical, which are far safer to handle in normal environments than dangerously reactive shit like hydrogen)

  6. Dr. Ellen
    Devil

    Watch out for that fifth dimension. Mr. Mxyzptlk lives there.

  7. Patched Out
    Coat

    When we achieve the 5th Dimension in transportation

    will we call it the Age of Aquarius?

    Mine's the one with the flower power patches on it.

  8. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Hyperloop Tech

    Related:

    https://idlewords.com/2007/04/the_alameda_weehawken_burrito_tunnel.htm

    Just leaving that here...

  9. Jim84

    SkyTran’s maglev PRT seems close

    SkyTran are promoting a system of maglev pods.

    www.skytran.com

    They are promoting them as a solution to intra city transport, but they are probably more useful as a replacement for intercity trains, as their “track” is much lighter are therefore cheaper than rails or roadway (all those bridges). They also have more utility than a train as each two person pod can travel direct to the destination without stopping everywhere like a bus or train, or missing out on serving all the towns and villages along the route like an express train. The cheaper track allows more of a network getting things away from the negatives of “transport corridors” (getting the train then having to get further transport to your final destination).

    The big technological hold up till now has been the need for at least automated car self driving at level 3 (driving on highways in any weather conditions) at a reasonable price (no 70k sensor array). You can control a couple of dozen trains via a centralised computer and communications network, but probably not 1000s of vehicles. Level 3 self driving should become a solved challenge soon (I’m skeptical about car AI ever getting to level 5 and driving on suburban streets where it has to make judgements about what people will do next).

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