Hyperloop technology: 0 to 400 mph in two seconds

By : |May 12, 2016 0

A fully operational hyperloop would whisk passengers and cargo racing through cushioned tubes at nearly the speed of sound.  This transportation alternative could make it possible to travel from Montreal to Toronto in an hour or Toronto to Vancouver in just three.

Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles company working to develop futuristic transportation technology, conducted a successful test of its high speed transportation technology on Wednesday with what appeared to be a blip of metal gliding across a small track before disappearing into a cloud against the desert landscape outside Las Vegas.

The total test was just two seconds. But it was enough, Hyperloop One’s founders said, to show that technology similar to that used in high-speed maglev trains could be deployed more cheaply, without the steep cost of high-tech trains and rails.

“This is about validating the hardware and software,” said Hyperloop One co-founder and chief technology officer Brogan BamBrogan. “We’re aiming to hit 400 mph in two seconds. “And by the end of the year hopefully we’ll have a full test, with the sled in a tube accelerating with our custom propulsion.”

BamBrogan noted that humans in a hyperloop pod wouldn’t feel the acceleration as it would happen more gradually, eventually hitting close to 750 mph.

Speaking on the eve of the first demonstration test of the propulsion in the Las Vegas desert, Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd tried to dispel criticism that the technology is unproven and better suited for science fiction than practical use.

“It’s real, it’s happening now, and we’re going to demonstrate how this company is making it happen,” he said at a press conference. He likened hyperloop technology to the emergence of the U.S. railroad system and the era of prosperity it ushered in.

Still, there are skeptics like Professor James Moore II, director of the University of Southern California’s Transportation Engineering Program who thinks that this technology would face myriad public policy issues before it’s installed on a large scale, including questions about safety, financing and land ownership.

“I would certainly not say nothing will come of hyperloop technology,” Moore said. “But I doubt this specific piece of technology will have a dramatic effect on how we move people and goods in the near term.”

The idea for hyperloop first gained momentum in 2013, when SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk first posited the notion of using magnetic levitation technology to zip travelers between cities hundreds of miles apart at a speed greater than airplane travel. SpaceX is also sponsoring a competition to source tech solutions for hyperloop, but will not build a company around the innovation.

 

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