Hyperloop One sets a new record in the high-speed propulsion system technology. Elon Musk’s brilliant idea for future transport is beginning to take shape, but are all the odds on his side? Wait, are we going too fast? Let’s begin from the scratch.

Hyperloop is a rising technology that will change the way transportation works. It’s been all over the news since May 11th. So you must have all kinds of questions about Hyperloop and here are all your answer in one place.

What is Hyperloop?

According to Hyperloop One, “Hyperloop is the fifth mode of transportation. It will allow the world to transport people and goods inexpensively, safely, and at speeds never thought possible.”

In more technical words, Hyperloop is a supersonic propulsion transport technology that pushes a passenger cabin through a vacuum tube.

How does Hyperloop work?

Hyperloop is based on three scientific principles.

Magnetism: The moving shuttle would be magnetically suspended within the vacuum tube without touching any part of the tunnel while it is traveling. So no contact, no friction.

Section of Hyperloop One where magnets lift up the pod from the railing

Vacuum: The Hyperloop transport tube would be airless to virtually eradicate any air resistance.

Inertia: The Hyperloop technology uses nearly linear channels so the turns would be less sharp or there would be no turns at all. This ensures continuity of momentum without sharp turning points which serve as intermittent speed breakers.

How Hyperloop traveling is better than airways or any other mode of transport?

All of the above mentioned factors give Hyperloop technology a great advantage over other four modes of transports, including air travel. I searched the internet for a table that could underline differences between Hyperloop and other modes of transport, but I couldn’t find the right table, so I had to create one.

Comparison of Hyperloop with different travelling modes
Comparison of Hyperloop with different traveling modes.

How can Hyperloop achieve supersonic speeds?

By reducing air resistance, friction and maintaining a constant speed with a uniform inertia, Hyperloop can theoretically achieve supersonic speeds up to 700 mph at less expense of energy.

Who invented Hyperloop?

Hyperloop is still years away from being invented; it is still going through testing and experimentation. In the latest Hyperloop One open hair test, the company achieved a maximum speed of 187 kph. Likewise further tests will demonstrate the feasibility of technology at higher speeds, inside vacuum ‘loops’ and longer distances.

Hyperloop One Pod open-air test model speeding through the desert
Hyperloop One Pod open-air test model speeding through the desert.

Who proposed Hyperloop?

The idea of Hyperloop was first proposed in July 2012 by tech billionaire Elon Musk, who has co-founded companies like Paypal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors. During a PandoDaily event in Santa Monica, California, Musk talked about a “fifth mode of transport” and coined the term “Hyperloop.” Hyper part denotes it futurist shape in which it will not be able to travel at supersonic but hypersonic speeds as well while the loop represents the closed end tube in which the shuttle travels.

Who is working on Hyperloop technologies?

In 2013, Elon Musk published a white paper that invited engineers and tech heads around the world to make a transport pod for the Hyperloop project. Since then, reportedly, over 20 non-commercial groups are actively participating in the project including MIT’s team.

3D visualization of Hyperloop One's open air model

Major startups working on this vision include.

What is Hyperloop One?

Previously known as Hyperloop Technologies, Hyperloop One is a company that is currently founded by tech heads (friends of Musk’s) and funded by many partnering entities shown in the picture below.

Supporting Partners of Hyperloop One
Supporting Partners of Hyperloop One.

Hyperloop One recently conducted an open-air speed test (not inside a loop) in Nevada desert, achieving 116 mph (187km/h) mark in just 1.1 seconds. That is record-breaking acceleration for a trial run, which helps us imagine 700 mph can’t be far from the target.

How does Hyperloop affect the environment?

How can it possibly? The entire thing is packed it a pipe, it is literally disconnected from our environment. There is no air pollution, no noise pollution, no chemical pollution… Nothing Evil at all!!

When will Hyperloop become a reality?

The Hyperloop project is aiming at bringing this new transport technology worldwide by 2021. However, everything depends on upon successful testing and mustering immense investment that it would take.

Also Checkout: Elon Musk – Inventor, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and A Really Cool Guy

Is Hyperloop a difficult-to-implement technology?

The concept of Hyperloop is not very difficult in terms of physical manifestation, but as to cost-efficiency and practicality, the technology faces a lot of challenges.

  • Building the infrastructure (loop) is going to be very expensive.
  • Because the loop has to be built in a straight line, this fifth transport mode only suitable for transcontinental travels. Interstate traveling would mean the network of pipelines would pass through private properties, which not all the individuals might find welcoming.
  • Once completed, Hyperloop could meet the fate of Concorde because though the service was fast, the tickets were ridiculously pricey.

How much role is Elon Musk playing in Upbringing Hyperloop?

To start with, Musk was the one who brought the idea to the public’s view. He not directly funding such project, instead, he is working in his capacity to provide human resources and financial support through competitions (like Hyperloop pod design). Musk has committed to finance the series of that expected to take place in the coming August.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk proposed the Hyperloop in 2011.

Musk founded SpaceX is partly the face of the high-speed vision project which is funded the Hyperloop transport pod design challenge won by MIT team. This is the best thing about the Hyperloop project is that Musk is not doing it himself (this guy can nail anything) but helping others work on his brainchild so everyone can be a winner. A wise strategy to introduce a difficult trend.

Apart from that Musk has publicly promoted and highlighted the benefits of Hyperloop technology. He has stressed its importance on multiple occasions. For instance, When US government endorsed California High-Speed Rail project for $68 billion (just for phase one), he didn’t go quite about it saying that Hyperloop could have served a speedier and cost efficient solution in under $6 billion.

However, critics have countered his claim that actual expenditure for such project would be double than estimated by the tech king.

San Francisco to Las Vegas: California High-Speed Rail Project vs. Hyperloop

Musk says that Hyperloop can journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes. The currently in-making California High-Speed Rail (due to inaugurated by 2025) can do it in 40 minutes, so it is not a difference so stark that investors would ever consider it. Besides it would be a lot cheaper compared to Hyperloop, with much greater capacity.

Also Checkout: Who created Bitcoin? Craig Steven Wright vs. Satoshi Nakamoto

Driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles takes 4-5 hours, on the plane, this time, is cut down to one hour, both projects can cut this down 30-40 minutes, but the government has already cast it votes: Hyperloop saying that Hyperloop can’t handle corners.

Will it be banned like the Concorde?

Taking the customers to their destination at twice the speed of sound, Corcorde retired in 2003
Taking the customers to their destination at twice the speed of sound, Concorde retired in 2003

Concorde is a marvel of engineering as a supersonic commercial airliner. But it was banned from spreading its wings into international airspaces because at such speeds, the risk of collision increased fairly well. Apart from that, Concorde’s pricey ticket’s also played a part in its retirement. In Hyperloop’s case, only the second part of Concorde’s story could raise hurdles because otherwise Hyperloop is going to be safest as it can get.

How much will a ticket for Hyperloop cost?

MIT’s prize-winning pod design can carry only 20 people at once. The successive pods can be launched very fast after one another but it still doesn’t meet thousand plus passenger carrying capacity of trains and ships. So this means few and privileged class will be able to afford those tickets, well at least that’s how it is going to be at the start.

What is the future of Hyperloop technology?

Hyperloop One proved that the high-speed vision is coming soon, it made the critics look. There is a huge scope of investment here. If Elon Musk’s calculation of $6 billion is correct, it could be world’s most advanced technological transport system that may not be far from reality and 2021 could be that year.

The SpaceX website clearly states, “Neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is affiliated with any Hyperloop companies.” But it is a huge success for the tech company and its founder that its vision has been taken up by other enterprises and today the whole world knows about it.

If a Hyperloop network is deploy tomorrow, it is definitely going to be SF to LV transit, a 400-mile long loop connecting commuters back and forth. Hyperloop One has already racked up $80 million for the project and more help is on the way. It is only a matter of time.

I agree the building costs might be high, and the tickets may be costly, but what you are forgetting about this whole process is every innovation was born that way. An idea takes all the support it can get before it begins to payback. So over time, it will get better, cheaper and faster. It is only a matter of time.

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