By Dr. Katie Spalding
https://www.iflscience.com/dr-katie-spalding Accessed: 2022-11-04
Source: By Dr. Katie Spalding https://www.iflscience.com/elon-musk-s- ... -lot-66080 Accessed: 2022-11-04Ever since Musk took to Twitter in 2016 to float the idea of building a giant tunnel under Los Angeles to avoid traffic, his “hyperloop” project has been a constant sideshow for SpaceX, growing from a single tunnel constructed for Musk’s own personal commute, to a potential Mars-mining venture to an actual existing travel system for at least one city.
Now, though, the very first prototype – a piece of tunnel spanning roughly a mile along Jack Northrop Avenue in Hawthorne, California – is gone, soon to be replaced by a collection of parking spaces for SpaceX employees.
“We had a sentimental moment knowing this was going to be taken down,” Erik Wright, the owner of one of the companies involved in the launch of the hyperloop project, told Bloomberg. “Like a memorial service.”
The loss of the prototype tunnel, where past engineering students from around the world were able to test their prowess in annual pod racing competitions, isn’t the only hint that SpaceX’s hyperloop dreams are coming to an end. The decline may be disappointing to those like Wright, for whom the project evidently had sentimental value, but it’s far from unexpected – after all, Musk’s promises for the hyperloop never exactly lived up to the hype.
Gone were the maglev shuttles, zooming commuters around at triple-figure speeds: the hyperloop, when it was finally deployed in Las Vegas in July 2021, consisted instead of a fleet of Tesla vehicles, driven by human chauffeurs limited to a chilled-out 64 km/h (40 mph) – assuming you didn’t hit a traffic jam along the way.
In short, it ended up being basically an underground Tesla-proprietary version of Uber or Lyft, except it could only cope with about 800 passengers per hour, and was limited to a select few destinations rather than anywhere you wanted. It must have been fairly embarrassing for the city of Las Vegas, who had granted Musk’s company $52.5 million on the promise of a cheap, futuristic transportation solution that could move up to 4,400 people every hour.