Ever look at a pneumatic tube at a bank and think, “Why couldn’t I travel like that?” A new form of high-tech transportation called Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) could take passengers in car-sized capsules traveling through tubes so fast that you could make it from New York to Beijing in two hours. Unlike pneumatic tubes that work with air and suction, the ETT works via magnetic levitation and frictionless tubes. The ETT could travel up to 4,000 miles per hour for long trips (over twice the speed of the supersonic Concorde jet), or 370 miles per hour for shorter trips, and tubes would be routed like freeways to avoid congestion. ETT proponents claim it’s silent, cheaper than planes and faster than jets, though an extensive network of tube rails would have to be constructed to connect the network.
While the capsules may look a bit claustrophobic, the ET3 consortium claims that the transport would provide more room per passenger than airplanes or cars, and TVs could be provided to “provide distraction from negative thoughts.” Tubes would be constructed with emergency escape hatches and EMT facilities in case of emergency, and the braking system would be automatic with multiple backups (unlike the Springfield monorail).
Licenses for the ET3 concept are said to have been sold in five countries, and you can sign up for the “first 3D Virtual Ride” (coming in Q2 of 2011, oops!) on the ET3 website, but a prototype has yet to be developed. ET3 hopes that with more support, low-cost world travel could be possible in a decade. The question remains, would we still have to turn off our electronic devices for the trip?