In the middle of the Nevada Desert, a revolutionary method of high speed transport is finally starting to come to life. This is the Hyperloop, a proposed supersonic form of transport similar to something you might see on popular cartoons like ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘Futurama’. The Hyperloop was first put forward by inventor/entrepreneur Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX. Due to other commitments Elon has kept the project as an open source and has since been taken on by friends of his.
On the 28th of July, the Hyperloop One team announced the opening of its very first manufacturing plant, located in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The project was cofounded by both Shervin Pshevar, a venture capitalist and friend of Elon Musk and Brogan BramBrogan, a lead engineer for Musk’s ‘SpaceX. Named the ‘Hyperloop One Metalworks’. The 105,000 square foot manufacturing plant will house 170 engineers, technicians, welders, design specialists and young interns looking to innovate the way in which we travel in the near future.
As the official website has explained:
“Hyperloop is a new way to move people or things anywhere in the world quickly, safely, efficiently, on-demand and with minimal impact to the environment. The system uses electric propulsion to accelerate a passenger or cargo vehicle through a tube in a low pressure environment. The autonomous vehicle levitates slightly above the track and glides at faster-than-airline speeds over long distances. We eliminate direct emissions, noise, delay, weather concerns and pilot error. It’s the next mode of transportation.”
How Does The Hyperloop Work?
In the simplest way to explain; the same way that you struggle to push two magnets of the same charge together is a massive factor in the method behind the technology used for the Hyperloop. For example, if you have two magnets and you face both of the positively charged sides towards each other and you attempt to touch each magnet with one another, as most may already know, there is a magnetic force trying to halt your attempt to join the two magnets. Also there will be a certain direction in which the magnets will travel, for example one will normally push to the left as the other one pushes to the right, rather than pushing directly away from each other.
The hyperloop consists of 2 main parts; The ‘external tube’ that contains the entire hyperloop and the ‘inner capsule’, an internal tube where the passenger would sit inside.
Imagine that the inside of the ‘external tube’ is lined with a positive magnetic charge and the outer shell of the capsule was also line with a positive magnetic charge, where will the ‘inner capsule’ go? The answer is forward. In the attempt to get away from one another, the ‘inner capsule’ will travel within the contained direction of the hyperloop (external tube) at extremely high speeds. This is known as electromagnetic propulsion. Although the hyperloop isn’t exactly as described, this is the basis around the technology that powers the movement
The inside of the ‘external tube’ also works similar to the way that a vacuum seal does, removing almost all air and pressure from the atmosphere within the Hyperloop. In turn the ‘inner capsule’ is basically levitating and sits harmoniously in the middle of the ‘external tube’ with almost all friction removed. The almost complete lack of friction due to low air pressure means the Hyperloop could possess the ability travel at speeds of over 800 mph, and 760 mph with passengers on board.
On of the greatest attributes of the Hyperloop is that it requires extremely little amounts of energy, especially compared to that of an aeroplane. As Rob Lloyd, the CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has mentioned:
“We actually only need propulsion for about 5% of the track. So we get you up to speed, could be 750 mph, and then we can glide for 100 miles without applying any other energy because we have little friction,”
How Long Until the Hyperloop Is Ready?
On May 11, 2016 Hyperloop One conducted the first live trial of Hyperloop technology on test track that is only 1km long. The initial testing explored the use of a linear electric motor to accelerate the test vehicle. A speed of 335 mp was recorded. From this it was planned to construct a full scale 3km test track where the use of the levitated pods passing through low friction tubes will initially come into play. Thanks to the new plant, Hyperloop One plans to have a full working prototype running by 2017. By 2018 the company wants the commercial use to begin with plans to build a track from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. A trip that would normally take over 10 hours drive to reach but will be reduced down to something closer to the hour.
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