Hyperloop One announced the completion of a “breakthrough” test that proves the viability of the low-pressure transportation system for both people and cargo.
“For the first time in over 100 years, a new mode of transportation has been introduced. Hyperloop is real, and it’s here now,” declared Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One.
Last week’s test was the first of a multi-phase program, and was privately conducted at the company’s test track in the Nevada desert. The vehicle coasted above the first portion of the track for 5.3 seconds using magnetic levitation, reached nearly 2Gs of acceleration (producing the effect of twice the force of Earth’s gravity) and achieved the target speed of 70 miles per hour (mph).
In the next phase of testing, the target speed will increase to 250 mph. The next phase of testing will move the vehicle to a longer track, allowing it to achieve faster speeds.
“Hyperloop One has accomplished what no one has done before by successfully testing the first full-scale Hyperloop system,” Pishevar said. “By achieving full vacuum, we essentially invented our own sky in a tube, as if you’re flying at 200,000 feet in the air.”
A prototype of the pod that the company hopes to use to transport passengers and cargo inside the tube was also unveiled last week. The 28-foot-long pod is constructed of structural aluminum and lightweight carbon fiber.
While hyperloop technology could be a transportation game-changer, the mode has its detractors. One common criticism of the technology is the cost of infrastructure required to scale hyperloop transport up to a level where it is economically meaningful. Leaked documents obtained by Forbes showed that, by Hyperloop One’s own estimates the cost of a potential 107-mile route in the Bay Area would run between US$9 billion and $13 billion – that’s between $84 million and $121 million per mile.
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