The 21st Century has witnessed one of the greatest rivalries between countries as they battle for economic supremacy with nations such as China, South Korea, USA and Russia among others, have placed enormous resources on technology in all fields.
One of the pillars in attaining economic growth is efficient transport networks. A shift from traditional transit system to ultra-modern designs has been on the rise. Recent inventions in electric automobiles have prompted innovators to move swiftly in upgrading other transit systems. The latest design set to be introduced is the Hyperloop concept.
Tech Billionaire, Elon Musk, was the first to conceptualize Hyperloop in 2013. His company, SpaceX, put tremendous work into it over the years to ensure the dream is realized. There has been a continuous growth of the engineering team, with the addition of software engineers, to improve the delivery of the design. So what better way to do this than enlighten our tech fanatics on this futuristic idea?
What is the gist of Hyperloop?
First and foremost, it is important to mention that the transit system enables the vehicle to propel at airline speed but at the price of a bus ticket. So what is hyperloop? Well, the system comprises of a ‘pod-like vehicle,’ the size of a train, that is placed on a tube structure. This vehicle is connected to a vacuum pump that removes air in between. The transit system will be resistant to earthquakes thus safe to its passengers.
For the testing of the Hyperloop, a 500-meter long testing tunnel has been set up in Nevada Desert, Las Vegas by SpaceX. The tunnel has a 3.3-meter diameter that will contain the pod and facilitate movement from one point to another. Trials are expected to be carried out within the first half of this year.
So why use a vacuum environment?
As you may have noticed, the idea thrives on a complex and sophisticated system that is different from the ordinary rail transit network. In order to attain supersonic speed for the pod, there was a need to avoid air resistance and friction from underlying rail lines.
Innovators, hence, developed a tube structure that is to provide a vacuum environment by sucking away any air in between. The next step was to have a frictionless pathway for the pod-like vehicle. This prompted the use of propulsion and magnetic levitation technology to replace running wheels which will ensure the body remains afloat throughout the journey.
Proposed destination points versus travel time
Hyperloop One announced 11 proposed routes for the super-fast transport in the US. It consists of a 1,152-mile stretch from Cheyenne to Houston and is expected to be the longest route and 64 miles from Boston to Providence. For an average car, it will take 17 hours to travel from Cheyenne to Houston as compared to a whopping 45 minutes for the same distance under Hyperloop. Now that is Super-fast!!
In Toronto, Canada the Transpod team is using the same technology that intends to link cities of Calgary and Edmonton. The Hyperloop will cover the 175-mile stretch in 30 minutes, which will match up with airline speeds.
The radical mode of transport is designed to allow the pod-like vehicle to reach speeds of up to 1000 mph with the passenger capsule expected to carry 28 to 40 passengers at a time and departing every 40 seconds. Hyperloop stands out to be a faster and cheaper propulsion mode that provides a better alternative to flying or driving.
An ambitious strategy to improve hyperloop design
Tesla Chief Executive, Musk, proposed a hyperloop pod competition to be held outside SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne. The main aim of the competition was to help accelerate the development of functional prototypes after frustration with alternatives offered. This was to pose a challenge to university students to design and build the best high-speed pods.
The strategy is ambitious considering it’s the first competition to be held in the world where the designs go through a litany of tests in a Hyperloop system. Plans are underway for a 2nd competition for Hyperloop that seeks to test maximum speeds for the designs developed. This will give an opportunity to new student teams, as well as, existing ones to join in a move to refine the Hyperloop models.
All said and done, the public and private sector need to work together to propel this amazing innovation to reality. The actualization of this project will be a major boost to the transport system and connection between cities. Enthusiasm should fill travelers as they look forward to using the Hyperloop at supersonic speeds.