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Is Hyperloop One getting closer to reality?

14 July 2017

Hyperloop One successfully completes its first full systems test in a vacuum environment, paving the way for a new future of transportation.

The company also unveiled details of the new pod it used for the full systems tests; XP-1 (Credit: Hyperloop One)

At the beginning of the year, Hyperloop One released never-before-seen images of its development site (‘DevLoop’) in the Nevada desert at Middle East Rail, held in Dubai. Hyperloop’s first public test of a prototype propulsion system took place in this area over twelve months ago in May 2016. Now, Hyperloop has successfully completed the world’s first full systems test in a vacuum environment. 

The test, conducted on May 12 2017, only lasted 5.3 seconds with the pod reaching a top speed of 70mph and achieving around 2Gs of acceleration. While this doesn’t break any speed records, the company states it was only testing with 100ft of the motor. The longer the motor, the faster the pod can travel. The next phase of testing has the aim of reaching 250mph. 

The company also unveiled details of the new pod it used for the full systems tests; XP-1. The XP-1 is made of carbon fibre and has an aluminium aeroshell over the levitating chassis. 

"For the first time in over 100 years, a new mode of transportation has been introduced. Hyperloop is real, and it's here now," said Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One. "By achieving full vacuum, we essentially invented our own sky in a tube, as if you're flying at 200,000ft in the air." 

Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport and Manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said in response to Hyperloop One’s test of their new rail transit system:

“This completion of this first trial from Hyperloop One must be very exciting for the team working on the project.

“However, as an engineer there still seems to be some gaps in the information regarding the risks and safety of the system itself. There remains a challenge of cost both in terms of design, production and maintainability with figures initially quoted from the team already escalating.

“Building a sophisticated, evacuated tube system that is elevated on columns and aligned to a standard suitable for 700mph operation will definitely be a challenge.

“As the distance of the trials increase there will be many engineering problems to solve including that of managing track alignment. In the UK we would not be able to use any existing transport corridors at these speeds due to their lateral curvature. In addition travelling at those speeds means that any fault in the system would mean everyone on board would die - just as you would at 60,000m if you were rapidly decompressed. The safety systems will be critical to this technology ever being viable.

“Whilst this was a successful first trial the speeds were still relatively low and so it will be interesting to watch the development of this programme.”

Video courtesy of Hyperloop One

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