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Elon Musk's Hyperloop
Hyperloop holds the promise of transporting people and goods as fast as an airliner and more cheaply than a train.
By accelerating pods suspended in a near vacuum, the theory is that travel at up to 760mph would be possible. Although there are ambitions to have a working system by 2025, there are numerous technical hurdles to overcome before a working Hyperloop system can be built.
This gallery explores the various projects to develop Hyperloops that have sprung up around the world, since Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk popularised the concept in 2013, with a presentation that garnered attention worldwide.
During that presentation Musk presented this sketch, as part of his pitch for a Hyperloop transportation system capable of travelling between San Francisco and Los Angeles in just 35 minutes, which he said could be built for about $6bn.
In his pitch, Musk envisioned the Hyperloop system transporting sealed capsules, each of which would hold 28 passengers, inside a tube, with new capsules departing every two minutes from Los Angeles or San Francisco.
The reason Hyperloop capsules, floating on a cushion of air or using magnetic levitation, would be able to travel at up to 760mph would be the massively reduced drag, made possible by the very low air pressure in the tube. The pressure of the air in the Hyperloop would be about one sixth that of the atmosphere on Mars — equivalent to flying at a height of more than 150,000 feet.
387km per hour test track
One of the companies furthest along towards developing a working Hyperloop systems is Virgin Hyperloop One.
This is the company’s 500 meter-long DevLoop located 30 minutes from Las Vegas in the Nevada desert. Virgin Hyperloop One completed its third phase of testing in December, when it hit test speeds of 387km per hour.
The world's first Hyperloop?
Hyperloop routes are being considered across the world, with proposed projects at various stages. One of the first to be realized could be a Virgin Hyperloop One route that would transport passengers, and possibly cargo, between the Indian cities of Pune and Mumbai in 25 minutes.
Virgin Hyperloop One has signed an agreement with the Indian government and set out a plan to have a working system in place within seven years, with the ambition of the route eventually hosting 150 million passenger trips each year.
Vision of the future
While we wait for the first working Hyperloop tracks to be completed there is no shortage of impressive concept art, such as this rendering of a potential Virgin Hyperloop One station in Dubai.
Not so boring
Elon Musk is trying to make Hyperloop projects more viable by reducing the cost of digging tunnels between cities by a factor of 10.
To that end he set up The Boring Company, with the aim of reducing current costs, which can be as high as $1bn per mile.
While Musk may not have poured much of his considerable resources in developing a Hyperloop system, his rocket company SpaceX does have its own Hyperloop test track at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
The one mile long tube is used in the annual Hyperloop Pod Competition, which challenges university teams to design and build the best transport Pod, with a view to fast-tracking development of prototypes.
A team from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands ran this computer simulation of an ultra-fast rail system. The team came in second in SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
Aside from Virgin Hyperloop One, another major company working to develop a Hyperloop system is Hyperloop Transport Technologies (HTT).
The Los Angeles-headquartered company is aiming to build a system that will use magnetic levitation to transport capsules — such as the concept pod seen here — carrying up to 40 passengers at a maximum speed of 1,223km per hour.
Railway of the future?
Like Virgin Hyperloop One, HTT has signed agreements with governments to develop feasibility studies into Hyperloop systems across the world.
One such memorandum of understanding was signed between HTT and the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board last September. Under the agreement, a public-private consortium will carry out a six-month study into the possibility of building a Hyperloop between the Indian cities of Vijaywada and Amaravati, potentially reducing a trip of more than one hour to six minutes.
HTT’s visualisation of one of the capsules in a future Hyperloop system.
- Elon Musk details plans for high-speed urban hyperloop for pedestrians (TechRepublic)
- World’s first hyperloop? Indian route promises Mumbai to Pune in 25 minutes (TechRepublic)
- Why hyperloop is poised to transform commutes, commerce, and communities (ZDNet)
- Elon Musk’s Boring Company tunnel plans put buses in fast lane (CNET)
- Hyperloop One: These nine new routes could bring 680mph maglev travel to millions (ZDNet)
- Video: How Hyperloop One is building a network that will be more than a series of tubes (TechRepublic)
- Hyperloop: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)