If early science fiction was to be believed, we should currently be commuting to work in one of two ways: soaring through the air in flying cars, or blasted through a series of Futurama-style tubes. While 2012 is sorely lacking in both futuristic modes of transportation, there’s one company that thinks the whole tube thing is a viable option. If ET3 has its way, we may someday be skipping the airport and instead heading to the tube station.
ET3 stands for Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies. The concept is to create a series of five-foot-diameter tubes that would allow frictionless maglev transportation for passengers or cargo inside car-sized capsules. ET3 makes some pretty bold statements, claiming that the tube tech would cost considerably less than high-speed rail lines or freeways, and that the tube transport could even outpace planes when it comes to speed. They say short-range trips could run at 370 mph, while international travel would increase to a jaw-dropping 4,000 mph. That could get you from New York to Beijing in two hours, or New York to L.A. in 45 minutes.
It’s still very early days for ET3, however, which still has to build real-life versions of the tech to prove that all those awesome-sounding claims are more than just hot air and wishful thinking. If they can pull it off though, it’d be great news for all those white-knuckle fliers who have to medicate themselves into a waking coma before they can get on a plane.
Will we all be taking our vacations in 4,000 mph maglev tubes in a few decades? Time will tell, but in the mean time here’s a demo video from ET3 further explaining the technology.