The futuristic transport system Hyperloop has come a long way since entrepreneur Elon Musk proposed a “fifth mode of transport” in 2012. The concept, in which commuters are whisked through a tube at speeds in excess of 700mph, has developed rapidly with inventors and investors giving their backing.
While it may have seemed like fantasy, and there are still lots of reasons to be skeptical about this “future of transport”, plans for Hyperloop and the companies behind it are making progress towards their first operational tunnels.
But what is a Hyperloop? Why does Musk back the idea? Who are the companies pushing the tech? Read on to get beyond the hype and see if you are a Hyperloop believer.
What is Hyperloop and how does it work?
Hyperloop is a proposed system of transport that would see pods or containers travel at high speeds through a tube that has been pumped into a near-vacuum. The train pods would either float using magnetic levitation technology or float using air caster “skis”, similar to how pucks travel across an air hockey table.
With so little friction in the tunnel, the pods would be able to travel at immense speeds with a projected top speeds of 760mph.
The pod would initially launch using an electric motor before levitation takes place and the pod can glide at cruising speed in the low-pressure environment. Tunnels for the Hyperloop would be built either above or below ground, at only around 3m in diameter, taking up a smaller ground footprint than traditional rail and road.
Many of the current designs feature autonomous pods that can be launched on demand as frequently as every 20 seconds. Others suggest eco-friendly designs, powering the pressure pumps with clean energy such as solar.
Plenty of companies jumping into this. The Louisville-Chicago HYPERLOOP is still looking for investors! How much per mile? Answer varies…..means nobody certain yet.