Hyperloop's 240 mph speed record puts us one step closer to sci-fi tube travel

Virgin Hyperloop One hit an 'historic' speed record in its DevLoop track in the Nevada desert.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Elon Musk's high-speed transportation project Hyperloop hit a new speed record of 240 mph last week. -Virgin Hyperloop One, 2017
  • Hyperloop One has said it plans to work towards having three Hyperloop systems in service by 2021. -Virgin Hyperloop One, 2017

High-speed transportation project Hyperloop hit a new speed record of 240 mph last week, bringing us closer to a world wherein people can easily travel long distances via pressurized tubes for work or pleasure, the company announced Monday.

The test took place at the Virgin Hyperloop One's DevLoop track in the Nevada desert, and included testing a new airlock that helps transition test pods between atmospheric and vacuum conditions.

Virgin Hyperloop One is one of the companies working to bring the Hyperloop concept (originally detailed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk) to life. Originally called Hyperloop One, the firm partnered with Virgin America in October.

A 28-foot-long pod was placed into a 1,600-foot-long concrete test tube, which was depressurized to the equivalent air pressure experienced at 200,000 feet above sea level. Electricity-powered magnetic levitation lifts the pod above the track, and it can easily glide with little air resistance and using less energy, according to a press release. You can see a video of the latest test here.

SEE: IT Travel Policy (Tech Pro Research)

All parts of the system were successfully tested, according to the release, including the airlock, electric motor, advanced controls and power electronics, custom magnetic levitation and guidance, pod suspension, and the vacuum.

In its first trial in July, Hyperloop One achieved a speed of 69 mph, as reported by TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet. By its second trial in August, it had hit 192 mph.

Virgin Hyperloop One also announced that Richard Branson would become chairman, and that it had raised an additional $50 million ahead of its Series C funding round—bringing the total amount raised by Virgin Hyperloop One to $295 million since its founding in 2014.

"The recent phase three testing continues to prove the incredible persistence and determination of our DevLoop team—the close to 200 engineers, machinists, welders, and fabricators who collaborated to make hyperloop a reality today," Josh Giegel, Virgin Hyperloop One's co-founder and CTO, said in the press release. "The continued support from our existing investors Caspian Venture Capital and DP World highlight their adamant belief in our ability to execute."

Hyperloop One has projects underway in the UAE, US, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and India. In June, the company announced nine potential European routes, connecting 75 million people in 44 cities and spanning 5,000 km.

If it comes to fruition, Hyperloop has the potential to revolutionize transportation around the world. Its routes could radically cut down on the time and costs for business and other travelers to get from city to city and country to country: For example, routes include 30 minutes from San Francisco to Los Angeles, 50 minutes from London to Edinburgh, eight minutes from Helsinki to Tallinn, and 55 minutes from Melbourne to Sydney, according to TechRepublic's Nick Heath.

Hyperloop may also provide a safer travel option to traditional travel by train: On Monday, an Amtrak train derailed on an overpass in Washington state, killing three people and injuring 100 more. Hyperloop One said in the past that it was adopting best safety practices from around the world, including taking an overall systems approach to safety in the system design.

In terms of costs, the original Hyperloop concept paper suggested a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco would cost $20, and more recently, the CEO of Hyperloop transport company ET3 said a $50 trip between the US and India would be feasible.

Hyperloop One has said it plans to work towards having three Hyperloop systems in service by 2021.

Image: Virgin Hyperloop One

Also see

Special report: IT Jobs in 2020: A leader's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Virgin Hyperloop One hits new top speed (ZDNet)

Hyperloop: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)

Hyperloop One: These nine new routes could bring 680mph maglev travel to millions (ZDNet)

SpaceX rocket could cut business flights to anywhere on earth to 60 minutes or less (TechRepublic)

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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