订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业 - 科技

Hyperloop超级高铁很快将变成现实?请不要激动

David Z. Morris 2015年09月17日

Hyperloop超级高铁项目刚刚找到了两家实力雄厚的新伙伴,埃隆·穆斯克的伟大构想似乎即将成为现实。但请不要激动。业内专家指出,该计划最重要的组成部分,即速度和成本,存在很大的水分。此外,Hyperloop甚至可能都不是穆斯克本人的创意。

    今年8月,Hyperloop 交通技术公司宣布与欧瑞康莱宝真空公司和工程设计公司Aecom正式建立合作关系。人们普遍认为,这两家实力雄厚的上市公司的加入,意味着特斯拉公司创始人埃隆·穆斯克在2013年8月向全世界公布的白皮书中阐述的创意得到了认可。

    还有其他迹象表明Hyperloop项目正在推进:为了配合将于2016年1月举办的座舱设计大赛,穆斯克自己的SpaceX公司正在建立测试轨道。Hyperloop 交通技术公司(目前不直接属于穆斯克名下)也在加利福尼亚州建立另外的测试轨道。

    并非所有人都在欢呼雀跃。自穆斯克的白皮书发布以来,媒体,尤其是科技媒体,就对Hyperloop的概念激动不已。然而,对于这个创意,无论是它的整体思路还是具体细节,一直保持密切关注的观察家和运输业专家都不感冒。他们认为,即便考虑到Hyperloop白皮书已经给出了大致的框架,但这项计划最重要的部分,即速度和造价,都有很大的水分。

    Hyperloop的批评者之一,瑞典皇家理工学院理论数学研究员艾伦·列维常在Pedestrian Observations博客上分析公共交通问题。Hyperloop的概念刚一发布,列维就指出它存在的种种问题,其中一条是Hyperloop的加速度会让乘客呕吐。

    新合作伙伴的到来也没有让列维改变观点。他现在更担心的是,Hyperloop可能会导致政府不再那么支持往返于洛杉矶和旧金山之间的加州高铁计划。

    列维表示:“我认为Hyperloop减少了某些地区间高铁的政策支持力度,例如硅谷那些科技群落之间的线路。”

    实际上,穆斯克对加州高铁计划的敌意已是尽人皆知。他在Hyperloop白皮书的开头几段中抨击了“加州‘高速’铁路”(使用了充满怀疑的引号),并把其描述为“全球最昂贵也最慢的铁路”。他并不是唯一对加州高铁失望的人,知名铁路史学家理查德·怀特就认为,加州高铁将成为“交通运输界的越南”,在未来几十年中浪费大量财力。

    如果Hyperloop在概念上果真存在缺陷,它最终可能会从更可行的交通项目手里抢走大量人力、物力和财力。

    一个遭人非难的事实是,Hyperloop的成本被极大低估了。白皮书预计从洛杉矶到旧金山的Hyperloop项目仅需耗费60亿美元,让加州高铁的600亿美元(还在继续提高)的报价相形见绌。不过即便认可了白皮书中的假设,这份非常粗略的估算也没有包含跨越旧金山湾区的成本——这一项很容易就会花去数十亿美元。此外,所谓的洛杉矶的终点站其实也不会设在市内。所以白皮书描述的成本只是线路中最便宜的中央山谷那一段所需的资金。

    Hyperloop能否大规模地解决交通运输问题,也存在着很大疑问。根据最初计划的构想,座舱每30秒出发一次,这个时间差也是各座舱的间距。不过鉴于座舱的最高速度可达每小时760英里,它们至少需要70秒的减速时间。为了避免座舱连环相撞,造成灾难性后果,实际运行时的发车距离至少需要翻倍,而乘客数量也得减半。这就意味着Hyperloop的载客量只有高铁的10%。

    当然,穆斯克的雄心令人鼓舞,他在追求伟大理想的道路上也取得了相当的成功。不过还有一个决定性的理由让人们产生疑虑,它无关Hyperloop的技术细节,而在于其空想般的计划背后的动机:它甚至都不是穆斯克自己的创意。

    在公布最初白皮书之前的几周,穆斯克会见了ET3公司的领导者达里尔·奥斯特。这是一家在真空管道运输方面拥有超过十年研究经验的公司。奥斯特对《快公司》杂志暗示称,穆斯克实际上是获得了他的技术许可。

    ET3拥有类似Hyperloop的计划,但是多年来没有得到乐观的评价,反而遭受怀疑。Hyperloop受到的待遇如此不同,证明它的吸引力恐怕很少来源于无可动摇的事实或伟大的创意,更多是因为埃隆·穆斯克的个人信徒日渐增多,以及硅谷的超级英雄光环所致。新加入的两大公司只愿意投入极为有限的资源(欧瑞康只分配了六个人)这一事实,也证明了这一点。(财富中文网)

    译者:严匡正

    审校:任文科

    In late August, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) announced co-development deals with Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum and the engineering design firm Aecom. The involvement of two established and publicly-traded companies was widely interpreted as validation of the idea that Tesla founder Elon Musk shared with the world in a whitepaper in August of 2013.

    And there are other signs of forward motion on the Hyperloop: Musk himself is building a test track, through SpaceX, for a pod design contest slated for January of 2016. And HTT (which is not directly affiliated with Musk) is building a separate test trackin California.

    But not everyone’s jumping on board. The media, and especially the tech media, have been aflutter about the Hyperloop since that first paper. But close observers and transit industry vets are much less enthusiastic about the concept, from the big picture down to the nuts and bolts. They argue that even given that the Hyperloop whitepaper was a rough sketch, the most important elements of the plan—its speed and price—have been vastly oversold.

    One of the Hyperloop’s critics is Alon Levy, a researcher in theoretical mathematics with Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, who analyzes public transit issues at the blog Pedestrian Observations . When the Hyperloop was first announced, Levy highlighted conceptual problems, including that Hyperloop’s acceleration would make it a “barf ride”.

    The new partnerships haven’t changed his perspective. If anything, they’ve made him more worried about the Hyperloop’s potential to erode support for California’s high speed rail project (CHSR) between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    “I think that [Hyperloop is] reducing political support for high speed rail in certain communities, like among very techy booster types in Silicon Valley,” says Levy.

    Musk has in fact been openly hostile to CHSR, and devoted the first substantive paragraphs of the Hyperloop whitepaper to a swipe at “California ‘high speed’ rail” (complete with skeptical scare quotes), which he described as “one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world.” Musk isn’t alone in his frustrations—eminent railroad historian Richard White has suggested that CHSR could become a “Vietnam of transportation”.

    And if the Hyperloop is conceptually flawed, it could end up drawing a lot of energy and support from more grounded transportation projects.

    One eyebrow-raising fact is that the Hyperloop’s costs have been wildly understated. The whitepaper’s $6 billion projected cost for a Hyperloop from L.A. to San Francisco would seem to put to shame CHSR’s $60 billion (and moving upwards) price tag. But even accepting the whitepaper’s assumptions, that very rough estimate doesn’t include costs for crossing San Francisco Bay—easily several billion dollars—and the L.A. terminus wouldn’t actually be in L.A. So the stated costs are only for the very least expensive span, in the Central Valley.

    There are also big reasons to doubt that the Hyperloop could ever be a transportation solution on the necessary scale. The initial plan was for pods to depart every thirty seconds, which would also be the follow distance between capsules. But the deceleration time for a pod travelling at up to 760 mph would be at least 70 seconds. To avoid a pileup in the case of one pod’s catastrophic failure, follow distances would need to be more than doubled—and passenger volume halved. That means the Hyperloop could carry only around 10% as many people as high speed rail.

    Of course, ambition is inspirational, and Elon Musk has been pretty successful pursuing huge ideas. But there’s a final reason to be skeptical, not just of the technical details of the Hyperloop, but of the supposedly utopian motives behind it: It may not even be Musk’s idea.

    Just a few weeks before dropping the original whitepaper, Musk met with Daryl Oster, the head of ET3—a company that has been developing Evacuated Tube Transport for more than a decade. Oster hinted to Fast Company that Musk had actually licensed the technology from him.

    ET3’s Hyperloop-like concept spent years being met not with elation, but skepticism. The fact that the Hyperloop’s reception has been so different suggests that its appeal may hinge far less on hard facts, or even big dreams, than on Elon Musk’s own growing cult of (awkward im)personality and aura of Silicon Valley superheroics. The willingness of two big companies to devote pretty limited resources to the project (Oerlikon is assigning six people) doesn’t change that math.

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏