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The Future of Travel: Evacuated Tube Transport Technology

Updated on October 26, 2012

These days travel is big business! It is estimated that the US travel industry generated more than 1.9 Trillion Dollars during 2011 as a result of direct and indirect spending by travelers. With these kind of numbers being tossed around it comes as no surprise that innovators are looking for ways to capitalize on this opportunity. Most companies are looking for ways to improve existing technologies by building bigger planes, faster trains, and higher capacity boats. But what if the future of travel lies somewhere else? Evacuated Tube Transport Technology (ET3) just might be the preferred method of travel in the future.

The Concept

The way Evacuated Tube Transport Technology would work is fairly simple. The travel system would essentially be a large scale version of the vacuum transport tubes that exist at banks all around the country. Instead of putting a deposit slip and some checks into a capsule, you would be able strap yourself and your luggage into one.

The transport capsule is a vehicle that would reside inside of an air-tight tube on a precision engineered low friction or magnetic track. Once passengers enter the capsules a door would be closed to create an impermeable seal between the inside and outside. Transport capsules could then loaded into the tube between airlocks to prevent air from entering the system.

The capsules would be powered by electricity and it is likely that they wouldn't require much of it either. Evacuated Tube Transport Technology would be a "green technology" because it could potentially transport 50 times more people and cargo per kWh than traditional electric cars or trains. This would work because the capsules would travel in a near frictionless environment requiring very little electricity to move. Essentially, electricity would only needed to accelerate the vehicle to it's top speed. Once top speed is attained, the capsules would coast through the vacuum for the remainder of the trip. When the travel destination is near, energy could be recovered when the brakes are applied to slow down the capsule.

Viability of this Concept

One of the biggest challenges facing the Evacuated Tube Transport concept is the infrastructure that would be required to bring this mode of travel to fruition. Traditional train tracks would not work for this design, though it's possible that they could be converted to accommodate the air-tight requirements of the transport tube.

In a best case scenario, this technology would be developed to operate in a system of elevated and underground tunnels. According Daryl Oster, the leading expert and patent holder on this technology, this travel system could be built for 1/10th cost of high-speed rail or 1/4th the cost of a traditional freeway.

Benefits of the Evacuated Tube Transport System

It is anticipated that if such a device were ever built for the long range transport of people, it could possibly reach speeds of more than 4,000mph. With that kind of velocity you could go from one coast of the United States to the other in less than an hour. In addition to this, even considering the costs of constructing the infrastructure, ticket prices could be offered to potential passengers at prices that are comparable to that of traditional methods of travel. It is alleged that in some cases the cost of travel would be so low that it could even be offered for free to the public if supported by advertising.


AAA. Highroads Magazine: High Speed Tube Travel. November/December 2012.

Daryl Oster., Inc. 2012 <>

Discovery News. Tech News. Around the World in Six Hours. March 24, 2012. <>

Gizmag. "New York to Beijing in two hours without leaving the ground?" March 22, 2012. <>

US Travel Association. Travel Facts and Statistics. June 2012. <>


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    • Sustainable Sue profile image

      Sustainable Sue 5 years ago from Altadena CA, USA

      My first question was, "What effect would that have on our bodies?" But then jets go almost that fast, so I guess it wouldn't be much different. Then I thought, "Doesn't that make us vulnerable to military attack?" But again, so are airplanes. And if the tunnel is underground . . . Weird. I'm not sure I would want to be locked up in an airtight tunnel. Interesting concept and interesting hub.

    • Rob Winters profile image

      Rob Winters 5 years ago

      Sounds great.I think i've seen this concept in use in Futurama episodes :-)The world just keeps getting smaller.Good video clip btw.Up & Interesting.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      What an interesting idea and concept. I would certainly ride on one of these tube transports. We do need a transportation system such as this in our country. Voted up and shared!