Elon Musk pulled all-nighter to prep for Hyperloop unveiling

At approximately 1:30 p.m. PDT Monday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO will show the world a more concrete outline of his futuristic transportation vision.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read
Musk has said this is the closest guess he has seen so far to his Hyperloop design. Illustration by GoCompare.com

After staying up all through the night with what we can only assume is his personal entourage of engineering superheroes, Elon Musk will provide a link to a more complete vision of his Hyperloop transportation system this afternoon.

Musk has been forthright about the double-edged sword that is the Hyperloop, having said in a Tesla earnings call August 8 that he shot himself in the foot by claiming that the future of transportation could be cheaper, faster, and more energy efficient than high-speed rail if we could, with the help of magnets, shoot ourselves through a tube system at speeds upward of 700 mph.

But Musk is not deterred by the mad genius of his idea. He has admitted that he cannot build it himself -- his commitments to SpaceX and Telsa are too demanding -- but he is committed to revolutionizing high-speed ground transportation. He put the date at August 12 for a complete design, and it looks like Musk will indeed deliver. He hasn't stated exactly where he will post the link to his outline, but it can be assumed he will tweet about it again.

As for the Hyperloop's real-world potential, it turns out that it's not as crazy as it sounds. Sure, it was described as a mix between a supersonic jet, a railgun, and an air hockey table, but experts from all sides have been coming out in defense of its feasibility. One man -- a self-described tinker named John Gardi -- even beat Musk to the table with a potential design. The Hyperloop could theoretically work if it were modified to a vacuum-in-a-tube concept, which would create zero drag and allow for a tremendous increase to current speeds.

It's also worth noting that a maglev system in Shanghai is one the world's fastest, sending trains at speeds up to 311 mph with a top operating speed of 268 mph. The world record, held by Japan's JR-Maglev MLX01 prototype, for maglev travel currently sits at 368 mph, but safe operational speeds are still under the 300 mph cap. An infographic from GoCompare.com details how the Hyperloop stacks up to these alternatives.

Tune in later today to see exactly how Musk plans to more than double that.

Update at 11:40 a.m. PT: Clarified differences between top operational and record-holding speeds of Japanese and Chinese maglev devices. Clarified vacuum-in-a-tube concept as not originating with Hyperloop.

Update at 2:14 p.m. PT: Musk has unveiled his plans in a blog post on the website of his company SpaceX. Read more about the updated outline of the Hyperloop here and follow CNET's live blog of Musk's conference call here.