For the first time Virgin Hyperloop has conducted a test of its ultra-fast transport system with human passengers. Virgin Hyperloop’s ultra-fast system is being tested with humans.
The test took place on Sunday afternoon at the company’s devloop test track. Virgin Hyperloop’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Josh giegel, and head of passenger experience, Sara luchian.
Virgin Hyperloop was founded in 2014 on the premise of a futuristic transportation system of magnetically levitating pods traveling through nearly airless tubes at speeds of up to 760 mph (1,223 km/h).
The test track is 500 meters long and 3.3 meters in diameter. It is located about 30 minutes from Las Vegas, out in the kind of desert that Hyperloop pods could one day traverse in minutes.
Virgin Hyperloop CEO Jay Walder said’no one has come close to doing it’.’this is a full scale, working Hyperloop that is not just going to run in a vacuum environment, but is going to have a person in it,’ he said.
The first passenger test, also called xp-2, was designed by bjarke Ingels’ design firm. It weighs 2.5 tons and measures about 15-18 feet long. Inside, its lush white interior is meant to be familiar to passengers.
‘this is not like some crazy, newfangled science fiction invention,’ said luchian in an interview several days before the test. I would feel comfortable putting grandma in and sending her on a visit somewhere,’ he said.
Prior to the test, luchian said she was eager to experience the acceleration, as well as monitor the temperature inside the pod and the ventilation system. He said he wanted to see the system’s safety procedures in action, and would be keeping track of whether they’re able to maintain communication with operators during the test.
The top speed of the fastest commercial bullet train, the Shanghai maglev, hovers around 300 mph. The pod is propelled by magnetic levitation – the same technology used for bullet trains.
Virgin Hyperloop’s maximum speed is 660 mph. The company’s record is 240 mph, which it hit in 2017.
‘we’re not astronauts, we’re just there – we’re sitting in it,’ giegel said before the test.’we’ll get up to about 100 miles an hour, a little over, and we’ll accelerate, decelerate, and it’ll be smooth,’ he said.
Musk’s’fifth mode of transportation’ suggested a trip from LA to San Francisco in only 30 minutes. The idea captured the imaginations of engineers and investors across the world.
Virgin Hyperloop was originally founded as Hyperloop technologies before changing its name to Hyperloop one in 2016 and then again to Virgin Hyperloop one. The company came out of the gate strong with tens of millions of dollars of funding and a bold vision of Hyperloop systems all around the globe.
Virgin Hyperloop settled a lawsuit with one of its co-founders in 2017. A year later, another co-founder was ousted amid allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.
Virgin Hyperloop raised $ 172 million in new funding in 2019. $ 90 million came from Dubai port operator DP world. Virgin Hyperloop already has two seats on the startup’s board of directors.
The company recently announced its plan to build a $ 500 million certification center to advance its vision of the future of high-speed transportation in West Virginia. The federal government has laid out the framework for regulating the Hyperloop.
In 2017, Virgin Hyperloop’s top executives said they expect to see’working Hyperloops around the world… by 2020′. That deadline was later pushed to 2021, the year they believe the Hyperloop will be ready for human passengers.
There are still a lot of safety questions that need to be answered. Constantine samaras, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, says a Hyperloop vehicle will travel much faster than high-speed rail.
Leaked financial documents in 2016 suggested the Hyperloop would cost between $ 9 billion and $ 13 billion, or between $ 84 million and $ 121 million per mile. Even with public funding, any company would need to raise millions of dollars in funding, acquire the enormous tracks of land, and certify that the Hyperloop can be operated safely.
Every time a pod arrives at a station, it has to decelerate and stop. Then the airlock will have to clear the airlock before the next pod arrives. Turning will also be extremely difficult.
The longer the headway, the less capacity the pods will have. Operators can try to compensate by building larger pods. Then they’ll need stronger steel for their tubes to accommodate the added weight.
Walder said headways would be’a few seconds apart’ in a full-scale, commercially operational Hyperloop, compared to 2 minutes or more for most trains. Walder has run public transportation systems in China and the US and most recently was head of Citi bike in New York City.
Luchian said she was excited, if a little nervous. I can appreciate the gravitas of the moment,’ she said.
She noted that neither giegel nor herself received special training beforehand or wore protective clothing like astronauts. giegel and herself did not wear protective clothing.
‘we do n’t have to do all of these iterations with specialists,’ she said.’we’re getting right in’.