Hyperloop: How We’ll Travel In Tubes

Hyperloop MVIThere’s no good explanation for it, but Hyperloop transportation technologies seem to attract people with exceptional names. Elon Musk, of Tesla and SpaceX, proposed the first major Hyperloop idea in August 2013. Essentially, cargo and humans will travel through a tube at around 700 mph. This is supposed to be possible by reducing the amount of air present in the tube and building pods that travel inside by air bearings, magnetic levitation, or something similar. A few startups (and MIT) have begun developing prototypes and master plans for their Hyperloop pods, but Hyperloop One has some of the flashiest technology at the moment.

On May 11 Hyperloop One ran their first propulsion open air test, which appeared to be a sled on a track in some sand. However, using a linear electric motor, the test sled reached 100 mph in two seconds, which observers believe is a promising step forward. According to former CTO and cofounder Brogan BamBrogan (his legal name), the company’s next goals are 400 mph in two seconds and a full test with elevated tubes. So far, they look like fancy bamboo, but that could be part of the appeal. Actually, Hyperloop transportation appeals to people for its energy neutrality, speed, and relatively low cost compared to the high speed train California is trying to build. Delays have been giving that project a hard time, so it will be interesting to see whether the state overcomes its lackluster timing or Hyperloop One figures out eminent domain first.

Even if California isn’t too keen on Hyperloop, Slovakia is all for it. Another startup, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, will begin developing the Hyperloop system to connect a few major cities. It should be operational by 2020. Hyperloop faces several challenges, bureaucratic and technological, but developers are optimistic. Besides, even if it fails in the motion sickness department, there’s always a need for high speed cargo transport. Same day shipping, anyone?

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