Welcome to the future: the Virgin Hyperloop has just successfully completed its first-ever test run on real-life humans.
ICYMI, ever since 2014 Virgin has been trying to harness a high-speed technology concept known as ‘hyperloop’ for commercial travel. Dry jargon aside, Virgin Hyperloop just got a whole lot more exciting, because for the first time, they just tested their transportation method on real-life humans, and spoiler alert: it worked.
The test was conducted on a 500m track where two volunteers, Josh Giegel, co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop, and Sara Luchian, Virgin Hyperloop’s director of passenger experience, shot through the vacuum tube at supersonic speeds. The hyperloop pod levitated above a magnetic track and was accelerated at a diabolical 172km per 6.2 seconds.
“I had the true pleasure of seeing history made before my very eyes – to witness the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years come to life,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of Virgin Hyperloop and group chairman and CEO of DP World, in a statement.
The hyperloop was prototyped off the world’s fastest magnetic train, Maglev. It’s designed as a new transport network to deliver record-breaking speeds and increase energy efficiency by removing air resistance.
The loop is a small pod propelled through a vacuum-sealed tube. The pod is levitated by extremely powerful magnets and then shot through the tunnel as a whopping 1,223 kilometres per hour, which is almost the speed of sound.
This test run was to demonstrate that the hyperloop is in fact safe and comfortable for human use.
— Virgin Hyperloop (@virginhyperloop) November 9, 2020
“I can’t tell you how often I get asked ‘is hyperloop safe?,’” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop.
“With today’s passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question, demonstrating that not only can Virgin Hyperloop safely put a person in a pod in a vacuum environment, but that the company has a thoughtful approach to safety which has been validated by an independent third party.”
The test run impressed volunteers Giegal and Luchian. Although the loop travels at mind-numbing speeds, apparently it’s “not much different to accelerating in a sports car”, according to Giegal.
The loop was first introduced by Elon Musk, and was first conceptualised to cut down the travel time between LA and San Francisco from 12 hours to just 1.
However, scientists and economists have questioned the hyperloop’s economic feasibility. According to critics, the 4 person loop pod is not economically sustainable or viable. Creating the vacuum-sealed tubes across the country would be extremely expensive, not to mention the razor sharp care required to build the things. Any mistake or warping of the tubes could result in deadly and catastrophic buckling – not something we particularly want at speeds of 172km per 6.2 seconds.
Two passengers have ridden in a @virginhyperloop pod in a test that has made transportation history. Read my thoughts on why I’m so excited about Virgin Hyperloop and its potential to change how the world moves around: https://t.co/4PRA6PN8B1 pic.twitter.com/MXd2ZC9CmX
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) November 9, 2020
Regardless, this is a massive step forward for hyperloop technology, demonstrating that it can be safe and comfortable for passenger use. Although the technology is probably a long way off from public consumption, it’s still undeniably awesome.
Big ups to Virgin, we love to see it.