How does the Hyperloop work? Hyperloop imagines the possibility of aerodynamic pressurised pods floating and travelling at high speeds in low pressure tubes. The pod never touches the tube - it just floats right in the centre - reducing, or perhaps eradicating friction entirely, enabling the pod to reach speeds of over 1220 km/h (760 mph). The pods are powered by linear induction motors and air compressors. Inside the pod, there will be multiple rows of seating, just like in aeroplanes.
Will we see it in the real world? Yes! A San Francisco to Los Angeles route is already proposed (and so is a Washington DC to New York route). But the bigger news is from the last few months. An informal team of about 100 engineers from SpaceX and Tesla Motors have come together to work on the Hyperloop. SpaceX, in June last year, announced that they will hold a pod competition. Over 120 teams have signed up. The concepts will first be discussed at Texas A&M University during the ANSYS (and Hyperloop Tech) Pod Design Weekend this on 29th and 30th of January. The finalists will get to test their model on a 1 mile test track SpaceX is building near their California campus. All progressions point to a possible design finalisation this year.
How much work is left? Although we are taking about the Hyperloop breaking ground this year, we may not see it until as long as 2025. The concept sounds all “cool”, but is definitely a challenge to the brightest engineering students and professionals. Everything from the structure of the tube and the pod, the aerodynamics of the pod need to be perfect and safety levels must be high enough for human mobility.
That hopefully gave you a good idea about the possible future of transport technology. At 760 miles per hour, you’ll be replacing 2 hour long flights (plus the departure and arrival time constraints) with a 30 minute ride in a closed tube. Yes, it is “the closest thing to tele-transportation”, as said by COO of HTT, Bibop Gabriele Gresta.
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