High-speed Hyperloop project ready for key test in Nevada
Engineers will soon conduct a crucial test of a futuristic technology championed by entrepreneur Elon Musk that seeks to revolutionize transportation by sending passengers and cargo packed into pods through an intercity system of vacuum tubes. Hyperloop One, the Los-Angeles-based company developing the technology, is gearing up to send a 28-foot-long (8.5 meter-long) pod gliding across a set of tracks in a test run in Nevada in the next few weeks, spokeswoman Marcy Simon said. Hyperloop One is working to develop a technical vision proposed by Musk, the founder of rocket maker SpaceX and electric car company Tesla Motors. In 2013, he suggested sending pods with passengers through giant vacuum tubes between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Hyperloop aims to achieve speeds of 250 miles per hour (402 km per hour) in its upcoming phase of testing. As it gears up for that experiment, the company on Wednesday released the results from a May 12 test in the Nevada desert. A Hyperloop One sled on wheels for the first time coasted above a track using electromagnetic propulsion and magnetic levitation, Simon said. It levitated for 5.3 seconds in a vacuum-sealed tube and reached speeds of 70 mph (113 kph), the company said in a statement. By comparison, another test by Hyperloop One that made national headlines last year was done on an open-air track, not in the tube, a key to achieving high speeds. Backers of the project envision the pods reaching speeds of 750 mph (1,200 kph), but skeptics say the hyperloop idea faces real-world challenges ranging from obtaining construction permits to making turns at jet speed. Hyperloop One has raised $160 million in funding and has touted the technology’s potential as a rapid-transit option. “Hyperloop One will move people and things faster than at any other time in the world,” Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One, said in a statement.
The space age Hyperloop sounds fun – but speed isn’t everything in travel, some-times it’s the journey itself
He’s at it again. Having promised us space tourism, and trains that run on time, the relentlessly optimistic Sir Richard Branson is now pledging to bring us another revolutionary form of travel: the Hyperloop One. In these futuristic pods – the brainchild of Tesla billionaire Elon Musk – passengers will hurtle through low-pressure tubes at speeds of up to 670mph. With Branson now in the driving seat, the plan is to launch the Virgin Hyperloop One in 2021. This hyperloop would connect Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, enabling passengers to travel between the airports in as little as five minutes, seven to Stansted: no need for a third runway. Another connecting London to Edinburgh would cut the four-and-a-half hour train journey to a mere 45 minutes. It sounds incredible. Travelling 100mph faster than a cruising Boeing 747, we will whip across counties in minutes. No need for torturous journeys by bus, train and tube to make – or miss – a plane connection. No more sweating and swearing on the M25. Greater London becomes an invisible irrelevance. Yet for all the time it saves, the Hyperloop will rob us of something too. High-speed travel may be efficient but it is deeply unromantic. Entering a metal tube in one place and emerging a short while later in another, where the climate, culture and landscape are entirely different is, as any long-haul air travellers knows, discombobulating and jarring. In a normal train you can observe the scenery unfurl outside, the city fraying at the edges, the gaps between houses growing larger, until they become countryside. You observe the details that delineate county boundaries: redbrick and golf courses give way to brick-and-flint and fields, then to stone thatches and sheep. Your window becomes a gallery of Turner and Constable paintings flashing by. None of this will you witness as you hurtle in a pod, like a receipt whizzing through those pneumatic messaging tubes used by old-fashioned stores. You will enter it in the Home Counties and minutes later arrive in East Anglia. Imagine the culture shock! Or exchange London for Edinburgh in under an hour, missing out on hundreds of miles of breathtaking scenery. For what? To arrive feeling desiccated, exhausted, disoriented, if air travel is anything to go by. Our bodies were built for slower speeds. A century ago, even a ten-mile journey was an event. Neighbours sat beside each other in carts, or walked and talked on their way to market. Now that we travel more speedily we gain time but lose much else. Travelling on foot you get to know every nuance of the landscape and seasons: pregnant ewes and crocuses clustering herald spring. On buses and trains you get to know people on your route. As we spend our working days in airless offices, our leisure time in virtual worlds, even shared meals glued to our phones, staying in touch with the real world feels increasingly important. Some people have woken up to this and choose to walk for an hour rather than spend twenty minutes on the Tube. A friend’s father eschews air travel and travels by container ship: it’s cheap, sedate and he experiences several cultures and climates en route. Cruises are popular for similar reasons. Pods may sound like progress but I, for one, hope that they don’t take off.
With a team of highly motivated students from various disciplines of the Delft University of Technology we will prove the technical and commercial viability of the Hyperloop concept. Among others, the faculties of Aerospace Engineering, Applied Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Industrial Design are represented in our team. Together they combine their knowledge and expertise. The Delft Hyperloop team is set on designing the best possible vehicle and help prove the commercial viability of the Hyperloop concept. To achieve this, our partners are an essential element, providing knowledge, experience, materials, funds and so much more. The project has already aroused a lot of interest globally. All around the world media have paid excessive attention to the Hyperloop concept. The Hyperloop is a project in the spotlights and therefore an interesting way for companies to show their capabilities. This will lead to a lot of exposure to young, aspiring engineers, along with countless of technology companies, ranging from the automotive to the aerospace industry. Hyperloop is basically a super-fast train traveling within an airless vacuum tube. The train is propelled by magnets. As there is hardly any air inside the tube, the train encounters practically no resistance. This enables it to go back and forth at incredible speed, like going from Amsterdam to Paris in half an hour. Imagine you’re able to have breakfast in London, lunch in Paris and dinner in Barcelona!
Created by the Delft Hyperloop team
Right now we’re participating in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. We’re working hard on designing the best possible pod (travel capsule). With our unique design and levitation mechanism, we created a safe, fast and affordable vehicle. The competition — aimed at university students and independent engineering teams — entails teams designing half-size pods. The pods will travel through a test track, built by SpaceX in California. After a year of design and construction, the competition had finally come! The tests went well and without any problems. Finally, after the opening ceremony by Elon Musk and his visit to our pod we were ready to enter the tube. Thirty nerve-racking minutes of tube decompression followed and then the pusher finally accelerated us. Our pod reached a velocity of 94 km/h while levitating in the near vacuum tube. Delft Hyperloop scored the best in the overall score, of assessment of safety, construction and design, and therefore was awarded the first prize! On top of that, we also won the best Design award. We would like to thank our partners, supporters and the team who have made this all possible. Next year we will continue with a new team and compete again. So stay tuned! Application for the new team is open until March 10th.
Delft University of Technology