Ramblin' Man: The future of travel might already be here

November 16, 2013 Updated: November 16, 2013 at 11:15 pm
photo - Artist's conception of the Hyperloop pod. (Tesla)
Artist's conception of the Hyperloop pod. (Tesla) 

Don't fret so much about highway congestion.

Don't shout, stamp your feet and tear your hair out.

No deep, guttural growls are necessary, even as you drive through that maze of orange cones on North Nevada Avenue and Austin Bluffs Parkway.

Because all that highway work isn't the future. It's already in the past.

Even Colorado Springs Airport and Denver International Airport could be left on the tarmac, like passengers idled by inclement weather. Just ahead is the real next generation of transportation: traveling at warp speed in aluminum pods at nearly 800 miles an hour through a steel tube, like a bullet down a long-range barrel.

Welcome to Elon Musk's hyperloop. It's a New-York-to-Los-Angeles-in-45-minutes, "Beam-Me-Up-Scotty" concept that has:

Formed a company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies,

Plans to produce a prototype by the first quarter of 2015,

And is already attracting financial partners to make it happen.

It's the sort of thing that requires people with vision and the willingness to take a risk. It doesn't hurt to be a billionaire.

Musk is putting his PayPal money into projects that could make a big difference in the world.

Plus, it's just plain cool.

Los Angeles to San Francisco is about 381 miles on I-5. That's a drive of five hours and 36 minutes, depending on traffic.Hyperloop will do it a half hour.

Colorado Springs to Denver, the math goes, would take around five minutes.

You could live virtually anywhere because commute times would be nil - as long as there was a Hyperloop nearby.

The brown cloud would dissipate.

The only driving we would do would be in town. Tiny, little jaunts.

Eventually, highways throughout the world would be replaced by steel tubes.

If you don't think it's possible, consider cell phones. Today, traditional telephones are called disparagingly, I think, land lines.

Faxes are passe.

Things fly through the air digitally that only a few years ago would have been discarded as science fiction.

And there you are, easing into the low-slung seats in a pod that rests on a cushion of air at the downtown station in the Springs.

The door slides shut with a gasp.

You plug a tube into the wall and start sucking in a cup of coffee. Before you are done, you're in Denver.

The future is here, we just don't realize it yet.

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