TODAY

TODAY   |  August 13, 2013

Is inventor Elon Musk’s ‘Hyperloop’ just hype?

Inventor Elon Musk calls his latest idea the Hyperloop: a high-speed transportation system that would speed people through hollow tubes at the speed of sound without turbulence, weather delays or air traffic control. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> lot of people talking. a billionaire inventor's idea to dramatically change the way we travel. it's super fast and super cheap. tom costello has more on this. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. he says he was up all night working up the final design details. he calls his system hyperloop. it would have us speeding through hollow tubes at the speed of sound . no turbulence, no weather delays, no air traffic control . if the idea had come from anyone else the world would hardly notice but this idea of transporting passengers at 700 miles per hour through tubes just like the jetsons comes from well, ironman. yeah, that ironman on the rich inventor that hollywood based the tony stark character on. he is the billionaire who helped found paypal, then founded telsa motors which turned heads with it's battery powered cars and then founded space x becoming the first commercial company to dock with a space station . now he is talking super fast travel called hyperloop.

>> how would you like something that can never crash. it is immune to weather.

>> on monday he released the details. 57 pages of artist renditions of his plans to whisk travelers 400 miles from l.a. to san francisco in 30 minutes . the tubes would sit along interstate 5. a quite ride without turbulence.

>> it's a cross between a concord, a air hockey table. a colorado company has been working for years on a similar plan, only bigger, going 4,000 miles per hour.

>> new york to beijing china for instance in about two hours.

>> but while it may be possible, how likely is it?

>> it costs billions of dollar to build, how much are consumers going to have to pay to ride this thing.

>> he insists a ride would cost less than an airplane ticket and has proven skeptics wrong in in the past.

>> the ironman costume sits on floor.

>> so you're ironman.

>> maybe in certain respects.

>> the question whether hyperloop will fly. well, i have been reminded many times over the last 24 hours that of course the ironman comic character predates him himself. true, but hollywood used him as their character. he says he doesn't have time to actually build hyperloop. he is busy running space x and tesla but he hopes others will make his dream a reality.

>> tom on this story, thanks very much. first of all, would you try it. if they could build it, would you try it.

>> of course.

>> not the first time.

>> i was going to say, i'm going to ride after you.

>> it's like a fast mri is the only concern.

>> are you clostrophobic.

>> yeah. but we were talking about how long it took them to build the thing to kennedy airport .

>> yeah.

>> i like how he said he would build it but he doesn't have time. he thought of the idea in one night.

>> he spent one night thinking this thing up.

>> the travel fare would be about as much as a plane ride. so it would be worth it.

>> wouldn't you want to be the guy going backward the