Answering an audience question at the Hyperloop Pod competition awards ceremony at Texas A&M University earlier this week, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said of his next great idea:
I have been thinking about the vertical takeoff and landing electric jet a bit more. I think I have something that might close. I’m quite tempted to do something about it.
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That could be something. Unlike traditional planes, an aircraft with vertical take off and landing (VTOL) capabilities doesn’t need a runway to get in the air and can hover above ground.
Musk could well have triumphantly dropped the mic at that point: the last time he said he had a good idea, he proposed the Hyperloop high-speed train system in 2013.
There’s now a funded startup working on the technology for this new-age transport system. Plus, SpaceX is building a test track in California this summer, when a team of students from MIT who won Musk’s competition will test the 800MPH pod it designed.
Musk noted that he had a design in mind for an electric plane last October. It remains to be seen what form that will take if he goes ahead with it and whether it will be a public effort like Hyperloop — but it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities of flying without relying on jet fuel.