Daryl Oster on Singularity 1 on 1: Evacuated Tube Transport to Bring Space Travel on Earth

Daryl OsterDaryl Oster is an inventor and engineer who wants to bring space travel to Earth. The idea is called ET3 – Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies. Oster is the CEO of ET3 and his company “uses an open consortium business model to share information resulting in co-operative benefits.” The goal is nothing less but building a radically new high-speed global network of transportation that will be cheap to use and maintain; safe not only for passengers but also for the environment; accessible to and affordable for everyone on Earth; quiet and fast (with speeds eventually reaching 4,000 mph).

During my conversation with Daryl Oster we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: what is ET3 and how did it come to be; how, by removing friction, evacuated tube transport will bring space travel to Earth; why automating ET3 is easier than automating robot cars; the optimum degree of vacuum required to achieve highest efficiency of transportation; the costs associated with the R&D and building the network; ensuring safety and dealing with malfunctions; why evacuated tube transport is cheaper and better than the alternatives; Daryl’s unique business model; current state of development and projects both in the USA and abroad; why the major obstacles are political and legal and not technological; the biggest misconceptions about ET3; why innovators are the ones with knife wounds on their backs; why the greatest benefits of the project are social; the technological singularity…

(As always you can listen to or download the audio file above, or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.  If you want to help me produce more episodes please make a donation)

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What is Evaculated Tube Transport?

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Who is Daryl Oster?

Daryl Oster conceived the basic principals of ET3 in the 1980s, refined and founded the company in 1997, and received the first technology patent in 1999. The company uses an open consortium business model aimed at building a global network of evacuated tube technologies that will bring space-like friction-less travel on Earth.

  • Terrence Lee Reed

    Another great interview Socrates, but perhaps a more accurate title would have been “Embracing the Pipe Dream.”

    For a quick summary of Evacuated Tube Trasport Technology (ET3) see http://www.capsu.org/library/documents/0035.html

    I have been sceptical of ETT for some time and definitely learned some new things from the interview and some research which I include below:

    You struggled a little to come to an analogy with how much this ETT pipeline would cost. The nearest comparison would be that of a natural gas pipeline, most notably the world’s longest natural gas pipeline, stretching 9,000-kilometers from Turkmenistan to Hong Kong at a cost of roughly US$23 billion. http://t.co/ilZOMqF9wF

    This is a considerable underestimate of the cost as in China the legal and property rights issues were almost non-existent. Secondly, take a close look at the photo of the pipeline and you will notice one key detail, how straight are the pipes, and the rail underneath?

    Click on the second photo showing a map of China and you will notice that the pipeline is by no means strait or neatly curved. As the pipeline straightens the cost increases exponentially, and travel at high speed needs to be as strait as possible both laterally and horizontally.

    As far as the building of the pipes themselves, Oster mentions Ductal by Lafarge, but this is used purely for architectural, structural and design applications, not pressure related applications. Pressure related applications are all either steel or plastic, some of which have concrete shielding.
    Oster also compares funding for ETT to that of pharmaceutical research, talk about apples to oranges comparisons!

    Pipelines are also a ready target of vandalism, sabotage, or even terrorist attacks. In war, especially a “war on terror”, pipelines are often the target of military attacks, as destruction of pipelines can seriously disrupt enemy logistics. Oster himself criticizes Elon Musk’s proposed “Hyperloop” or ‘Lofstrom loop’, commenting “The ‘Lofstrom loop’ is not immune to crashing (could be a very bad crash of the whole system).”
    http://bit.ly/15Bc62a
    Scroll down to see Daryl Oster’s comment to Englishgrammar’s comment.

  • Daryl Oster

    @Terrence Lee Reed,

    RE ET3 cost:
    You are correct that route considerations are a significant cost variable for ET3. To put ET3 in an underground tunnel for instance is at least three times the cost of simple elevated structure across flat ground. This is why we compare ET3 to High-Speed-Rail (HSR) on an apple to apple basis. We have ample evidence showing ET3 will be 1/10th the cost of HSR for design speeds up to about 600km/h.

    You are also correct that Right-Of-Way (ROW) cost is highly variable, so it is not included in the generic ET3 cost projections. Specific routes will require specific studies. We
    propose paying 5% of revenue for use of existing ROW (for instance along a freeway,
    railroad, or powerline). ET3 ROW issues are similar to telcom ROW issues where there are public processes in place for co-location, and fair compensation.

    ET3 must be underground for the very high speed routes, and this will be at much greater cost (about 20X more is likely for 4k mph vs 400 mph routes). Detailed cost comparison information for: infrastructure (tube guideway), vehicles, and access portals is available to licensees.

    RE tube material:
    You are correct that concrete is not typically used for pressure applications. Concrete has poor performance in tension applications (like high pressure water or gas pipes). ET3 tubes however are NOT exposed to internal pressure that would cause tension forces. The preferred structural loading for concrete is in compression, and this
    is how tubes are loaded in ET3 application. Ductal offers a 9:1 safety factor for the
    maximum load of 14.7psi compressive loading from atmospheric external pressure with the minimum casting thickness. Buckling is not a factor (as it often is for steel pressure pipes exposed to negative pressure loadings). While the tubes are strong enough to
    span 25m, we specify the use of tension members to eliminate the possibility of tension forces, and to keep axial compression loading uniform.

    RE Pharma comparison:
    Detailed cost compassions of ET3 with other transportation modes are a matter of public bid and RFSOTI records in Florida and Colorado. The comparison with pharma was to illustrate the fact that there are very risky investments (86% failure) that are routinely
    made in the $50M range.

    RE Terror exposure:
    All transportation modes are subject to such attack. Fortunately such attacks and ‘acts of God’ like tornadoes, and tsunamis all combined account for less than 1% of transportation related fatalities. We at ET3 focus on reducing or eliminating the major
    risks of transportation, and we also show that ET3’s exposure to terror is less than 1/30th the terror exposure of high speed rail (or cars for that matter).

    RE ‘hyperloop’ / ‘Lofstrom loop’
    I do not criticize something that has not yet been defined (like Musk’s ‘hyperloop’). I was only pointing out that the ‘Lofstrom loop’ was not immune to crashes (and therefore not likely to be what Musk’s ‘hyperloop’ is).

  • Terrence Lee Reed

    Thank you Daryl Oster, sorry for the delay, I only just now saw your response.
    Your answers are appreciated.
    The hype of Musk’s HYPErloop is merely hype and it sometimes gets confused with the work you are doing, when I see this I leave a comment crediting you for the work and not Elon Musk. Do a Google search “hyperloop” and you will see ET3 concepts and renderings presented as if they are his, this is a major shortcoming of the Internet…

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Happy you got it all cleared out Terrence!