High speed rail: Hyperloop just came closer to reality

As part of the Propulsion Open Air Test, the Hyperloop Sled travelled at nearly 160 kilometers per hour in North Las Vegas


Hyperloop One will test technology that allows the sled to levitate and achieve a speed of around 640 km per hour.
Hyperloop One will test technology that allows the sled to levitate and achieve a speed of around 640 km per hour.

New Delhi: In 2013, following his disappointment with the Californian high speed rail which had just been approved, tech wizard Elon Musk wrote a concept note about Hyperloop which was his solution for faster and safer transportation of up to 1,500 km.

On Wednesday, Hyperloop One, a company looking to implement Musk’s idea, successfully tested a critical component of the system. As part of the Propulsion Open Air Test, the Hyperloop Sled travelled at nearly 160 kilometers per hour in North Las Vegas.

So, what is Hyperloop? To get a general idea, Hollywood and popular culture may help. Think the green tube transporting people from one place to another in super high speed in Futurama, or George Jetson comically crashing into his boss’s office after being transported via a super high-speed tube, or James Bond using the “Phig” inside the Trans Siberian Pipeline to smuggle out General Koskov.

But really, it is an idea for a new high-speed ground transport system which would could transport people in a capsule that would travel at the supersonic speed of 1,200 km per hour. Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes, Musk said.

In his concept note, Musk described Hyperloop as consisting of a low pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. These capsules which will carry the passengers or cargo, would be supported on a cushion of air and will be accelerated through a magnetic linear accelerator affixed at various stations on the low pressure tube with rotors contained in each capsule.

While SpaceX itself is not developing a commercial Hyperloop, it is helping accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype. Next, Hyperloop One will test technology that allows the sled to levitate and achieve a speed of around 640 km per hour. The ‘Kitty Hawk moment’ as Hyperloop One calls it, will take place later this year.

The company on Tuesday also announced the $80 million financing with new investors, including 137 Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Fast Digital, Western Technology Investment (WTI), French National Rail Company SNCF, and GE Ventures.

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