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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

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CORNISH: The brainy billionaire behind PayPal, Tesla Motors and the private space launch company SpaceX is out with a new concept in high-speed travel. It's called the Hyperloop, and inventor Elon Musk unveiled the design this afternoon. Musk claims the Hyperloop, if built, could move people from L.A. to San Francisco in about 30 minutes. That's about 800 miles per hour.

NPR's Elise Hu, who covers technology and culture for us, joins us here now. And, Elise, this sounds frankly, unbelievable.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: So how is this supposed to work?

ELISE HU, BYLINE: Well, it would be an aboveground system of sealed tubes that carry people or cars in metal pods. Now, this is experimental, of course, but the pods would be mounted on skis, and magnetic forces would push the pod to high speeds, and then it would ride on a cushion of air. If you can imagine those shoots from drive-through banks, it sort of looks like that, only at a much bigger scale.

CORNISH: And with people in it.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: So why did he want to build this? What's the motivation?

HU: This all grew out of Musk's disappointment with the current $70 billion high-speed rail proposal in California. He frankly thinks it's too slow and too expensive.

CORNISH: Yeah, but can he pull this off?

HU: Well, interestingly, Musk says he has no intention of personally building this or financing it since he's so busy with his other companies. He's putting his design out there so other folks can work on it. The big questions going forward, of course, are safety and cost. The bottom line right now, we don't know if the Hyperloop will ever get built.

CORNISH: Helpful. That's NPR's Elise Hu. Thanks so much.

HU: My pleasure.

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