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Virgin Hyperloop completes first test with human passengers

The first manned Hyperloop test

Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop has successfully completed its first manned test of the ultra-high-speed pod transportation system in the Nevada Desert, in a major milestone for the so-called fifth mode of transport.

On Sunday, Virgin Hyperloop executives Josh Giegel, its chief technology officer, and Sara Luchian, its director of passenger experience, were blasted at up to 107mph (172kph) through the DevLoop – a test track in Las Vegas that’s 500 meters long and 3.3 meters in diameter – in a journey that lasted just 15 seconds.

Virgin Hyperloop claims to have conducted some 400 unmanned tests. This latest manned test was the next major milestone towards commercial electric propulsion with passive magnetic levitation through a near-vacuum tube. The technology, if it ever comes to fruition, has the oft-touted potential to revolutionize both human and cargo transportation. 

The ultimate goal is to transport passengers and cargo through vacuum tubes in journeys of up to 670 miles (1,079km), at speeds of 600 miles an hour (966kph) or more. For example, a trip from New York to Washington (328km/204 miles) would be expected to take just 30 minutes, should the Hyperloop ever become a reality. By contrast, the Shanghai Maglev considered the fastest commercial bullet train on Earth – can reach a top speed of ‘only’ around 300mph (482kph).

The technology promises travel that’s twice as fast as what can be achieved by a commercial airliner and four times as fast as the US’ current high-speed rail transport. Virgin is aiming at gaining safety certification for the Hyperloop by 2025 and to be in commercial operation by 2030. 

“With today’s passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question, demonstrating that not only can Virgin Hyperloop safely put a person in a pod in a vacuum environment, but that the company has a thoughtful approach to safety,” Jay Walder, Virgin Hyperloop’s chief executive said.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk published his “alpha paper” outlining the idea for the Hyperloop system back in 2013, but the technology has faced an ongoing series of regulatory and financing setbacks ever since the plans were made open source. 

There are still numerous safety concerns about the system, regardless of the successful manned test, especially regarding how the technology would scale, and how safe it would be from natural disasters and nefarious actors. 

No country has yet given regulatory approval for the development of such a mass transport system, but technologists nonetheless remain hopeful that a new era of transportation could be right around the corner.

Originally published by RT


Ground transport faster than air travel: Hyperloop unveils its first passenger pod

The world's first full scale passenger Hyperloop
The front of the world’s first full-scale passenger Hyperloop capsule is seen during its presentation in Spain © Marcelo del Pozo © Reuters

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has unveiled its first full-size passenger capsule designed to carry passengers at over 1,100 kilometers per hour (700mph).

According to HTT, the vessel has been built to scale to transport passengers at super-fast speeds through magnetic tubes.

“Today we have unveiled a new type of transportation vessel built with an industry high percentage of composite, which makes the Hyperloop capsule perhaps the safest transportation vehicle in the world,” said Rafael Contreras, the company’s co-founder and chairman.

HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn expressed hope that a full hyperloop system would be up and running in three years. “In three years, you and me, we can take a Hyperloop,” he told CNBC.

Ahlborn said that the capsule will be a part of “one of the most efficient transportation systems ever made.”

Named ‘Quintro One,’ the Hyperloop pod is made out of dual-layer smart composite material designed to be extra resilient, and weighs five tons. At a length of 32 meters (105 feet), it will form part of a longer train that could feasibly speed cross-country in record times. A journey from Los Angeles to Las Vegas could take just 20 minutes.

The Hyperloop technology uses magnets to levitate and propels pods through large tubes at speeds of more than 700mph. Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims he came up with the idea in 2013.

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