HYPERLOOP – Beats Speed Record | Part – 1
The year is 2025. You’re in a sleek pod-like capsule that’s levitating inside a low-pressure steel tube and accelerating across the country at speeds of more than 600 miles per hour.
Whilst it may sense like science fiction, hyperloop is now on the cusp of becoming a reality.
In 2012, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk conceived the idea for the first time moving on 100-year-old principals updated for the 21st century.
Hyperloop is a new form of transportation that moves freight and people quickly, cautiously, on-demand and direct from origin to destination.
Elon Musk established out his vision for a futuristic, super high-speed transport system that would understand passenger pods move through a partial vacuum in steel tubes approaching the two key constituents that slow down conventional vehicles: friction and air resistance.
At first, he imagined how to connect San Fransisco to Los Angeles in less than 13 minutes, instead of 8 hours by cars or 4 hours by train.
Under his first hyperloop plan, he proposed that compression fans would propel air around the passenger pods to reduce drag and create “air bearings” beneath them, floating them off the surface of the tubes.
It should be noted that Musk’s early hyperloop idea is not a million miles apart from the Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s atmospheric railway that moved between Exeter and Plymouth in the UK from 1847 to 1848. That system led carriages with pressurized air. (1)
The air was extorted from a pipe that ran between the rails by pumping stations located roughly every three miles along the route, generating a vacuum. A piston enclosed within this pipe was attached to the train, which pulled it forward.
Despite its first success, the leather flaps that created the vacuum pipes airtight soon started to fail to cause air to leak from the system and Brunel’s system was abandoned.
With an evaluated price tag close to USD $6BN, Musk’s first hyperloop idea never came to fruition, but the effective idea and potential to link cities in such a direct way sparked great interest.
From the beginning, Musk had always said that the concept of Hyperloop would be “open source” and he actively promoted others to come together and manifest the necessary technology, autonomously from his involvement.
This led to the establishment of several start-ups and student teams advancing various aspects of hyperloop technology with differing degrees of success.
Now, some fully-fledged companies are performing significant walks to bring hyperloop systems into existence.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (or HTT) are making dynamic advancements and recently built a full-scale test track in France, however, the clear heads of the pack in the current positions, are Virgin Hyperloop One. (2)
VIRGIN HYPERLOOP ONE:
Virgin Hyperloop One is on track to reach their bold ambition of bringing a hyperloop system into operation by 2021. Basically formed in 2014 as Hyperloop One, the company was rebranded following a notable investment from Sir Richard Branson in 2017.
Differing slightly from Musk’s original plan, Virgin Hyperloop One’s technology links two basic principles.
The first is magnetic levitation (or “MagLev”), a technology previously used in monorails to elevate the passenger pods and move them along their rails.
Magnetic levitation practices two sets of magnets; one to oppose the train from the track and lift it upwards and the other to run the floating train along the track at considerable speed with reduced friction.
The second system is the use of low pressure, vacuum-sealed environment for the passenger pods to go through. By eliminating most of the air from the tubes and having no contact with the ground, the pods face little to no resistance as they move.
Air pressures inside hyperloop tubes are equal to flying 200,000 feet above sea level. Such an atmosphere enables the pods to attain speeds of over 760 mph using very little energy.
To avoid making anyone sick, the system would take three minutes to accelerate to that speed, and the train would need to travel six miles to turn 90 degrees.
By virtue of moving in a tube, the system is shielded from the weather and can work in almost any climatic conditions.
Virgin Hyperloop One’s system is managed by advanced software that assures acceleration and deceleration happens gradually, going almost unnoticed by those traveling inside.
Having built a 500-meter track in the Nevada desert, Virgin Hyperloop One has brought out several real-world tests focusing on individual aspects of the system and a complete full-scale systems test in May 2017. The propulsion, braking, levitation, and vacuum systems are all functioning well and the team has gained a top speed of over 240mph to date. (3)
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