Count Bill Gates as part of the growing camp of Hyperloop skeptics.
Billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk has gotten closer to making his radical, pod-based transportation system a reality.
But the Microsoft co-founder has cast some doubt on whether or not Hyperloop, which promises to ferry passengers hundreds of miles in a matter of minutes, will actually work.
‘I am not sure the Hyperloop concept makes sense,’ Gates said Tuesday during a question and answer session on Reddit.
‘Making it safe is hard,’ he added.
Pictured, Bill Gates (center) and Elon Musk (right) shake hands at a conference in 2015. In a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, Gates cast some doubt on Musk’s Hyperloop transportation concept
Gates didn’t elaborate on why he felt Hyperloop might be unsafe, but said he feels more confident about the future of electric vehicles and self-driving cars.
‘I think electric cars and autonomous vehicles will be great things,’ Gates explained.
The comments came after a user asked why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hasn’t focused on transportation issues.
The Gates Foundation has donated billions of dollars to health and humanitarian causes.
He said the Gates Foundation is experimenting with drone delivery of medical supplies in Rwanda and Tanzania.
As far as fixing issues with transportation, Gates believes that task is more suited for the private market, however.
‘I think the private market rewards innovation in this space quite well,’ he noted.
One of the firms leading the race to bring Elon Musk’s plan for high-speed Hyperloop transportation to life, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, recently signed its first interstate agreement. This is a major step toward building such the pod system (pictured)
Bill Gates said he concerned about whether Elon Musk’s radical pod-like transportation concept, Hyperloop, will be safe. He also said he’s unsure that the system ‘makes sense’
There has been a flood of activity among private corporations around autonomous vehicle technologies, space exploration, flying cars and boats, as well as high-speed pod travel, such as Hyperloop.
Although various startups and corporations are working to build a Hyperloop system, Musk was one of the first people to publicize the concept, mentioning it in 2012.
Musk’s SpaceX made the Hyperloop concept ‘open-source’ so that anyone can develop their own prototype.
The Tesla chief said in 2013 that Hyperloop would be able to take passengers from LA to San Francisco — a distance of approximately 380 miles — in about 30 minutes.
That’s half the time it would take a plane to travel that distance.
Aside from SpaceX, California-based research company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One and Canadian firm TransPod are among many others exploring the radical transportation technology.
Many firms are now competing to achieve the first full-scale design.
Virgin has unveiled a stunning prototype of the pods that will carry passengers at speeds of up to 760mph (1,200 kmh) when it launches its Hyperloop service in Dubai. Hyperloop’s low friction design means that passengers will be able to travel the 87 miles (140 km) between the city and neighbouring Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes, a journey that takes around 90 minutes by car
Gates isn’t the first to raise some concerns about Hyperloop, however.
Dr Phil Mason, a former Cornell University chemist, said recently that Hyerloop ‘sounds great, but in reality it’s bull**** made up by snake-oil salesmen.’
Mason added that there are many safety issues with Hyperloop that need to be resolved before it can become a reality, according to Daily Caller.
‘Any failure whatsoever will rip through that 2 centimeter outer tube like candy,’ Mason explained.
‘Now sure, anybody in the capsule would die pretty much instantly in the event of a crash…but a single breach in the Hyperloop would probably kill everybody else in the Hyperloop because air would rush into the tube at about the speed of sound,’ he added.
Mason has run tests simulating what would happen if there was a small crack in the tube that lets air in.
He found that the pressure change destroyed the tube and caused the Hyperloop to rapidly accelerate, likely killing all its passengers inside.
Musk has reassured consumers that the Hyperloop transportation system has safety procedures in the event of a crash.
Billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk denied beliefs that the Hyperloop might be unsafe. On SpaceX’s website, he described how it has emergency brakes, reserve air supplies for passengers who may be stuck, as well as a system that can transport the capsules to safety
Hyperloop’s propulsion system is integrated into the tube and can only accelerate the capsule to speeds that are safe in each section, Musk explained on SpaceX’s website.
The passenger capsules also have emergency brakes.
‘In the unlikely event of a large scale capsule depressurization, other capsules in the tube would automatically begin emergency braking whilst the Hyperloop tube would undergo rapid de-pressurization along its entire length,’ he continued.
Once the capsules slow down, they’re able to drive themselves to safety using ‘small onboard electric motors,’ Musk added.
The capsules are also equipped with a reserve air supply to protect passengers inside.