History was made in the Nevada desert last weekend. For the first time, two passengers took place in a Hyperloop pod built by Virgin Hyperloop: seen by many as the means of transport of the future. “I can’t tell you how often I get asked if the Hyperloop is safe,” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop. “We answered that question with today’s passenger test.” The two passengers in the 500 meter long test tube completed their test drive without any problems, reaching a speed of 48 meters per second (just over 170 kilometers per hour).
About the Hyperloop
The Hyperloop is a completely new way of transport – invented by Elon Musk – where you travel from A to B at lightning speed in a tube. You are in a capsule that floats – with the help of magnetic levitation – and therefore does not encounter any resistance from rails or wheels. In addition, the tube in which the capsule is located is under low pressure, resulting in extremely low air resistance. It means very concretely that this way of transport is relatively energy efficient and that enormous speeds of more than 1000 kilometers per hour can be achieved! Musk deliberately released his ideas for the Hyperloop so that teams worldwide could work on it. And that is happening in full at the moment.
In recent years we have seen that various start-ups, as well as student teams, have become involved in the Hyperloop. For example, Hyperloop pods were conceived and developed and tubes were built at various locations in which these pods could be tested. These tests have already shown that it is possible to reach high speeds. But Virgin Hyperloop also wants to prove that the means of transport is safe. And how can you do that better than during a test drive?
The test drive
For the Virgin Hyperloop’s first manned test drive, a pod that can accommodate two passengers was used. On board were Josh Giegel (co-founder and CTO of Virgin Hyperloop) and Sara Luchian, also employed by Virgin Hyperloop.
The two got into the pod, which was then placed in a tube in which the air pressure was kept artificially low (around 100 pascals), creating a near vacuum. The pod managed to reach a top speed of 172 kilometers per hour over a distance of about 500 meters.
Prelude to more
Although all this is already quite impressive for a system that has only been tinkered with for about six years, it is only the prelude to more. Ultimately, Virgin wants to build Hyperloop pods that can accommodate 28 passengers and reach speeds of 1080 kilometers per hour. At such speeds, the Hyperloop can even compete with airplanes. For example, you could travel from Leeuwarden to Paris in less than 40 minutes. To top it all off, the Hyperloop is also much more energy efficient than the airplane; in principle only electricity is needed. And you can generate that sustainably.
Many see great opportunities for the Hyperloop. And they know that this test drive has strengthened their belief that this means of transport will actually come. And Virgin Hyperloop is also confident. “In recent years, Virgin Hyperloop has worked hard to make this revolutionary technology a reality,” said Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group that includes Virgin Hyperloop. “With this successful test, we show that this will change the way people everywhere live, work and travel in the coming years.”