Virgin Hyperloop One
One of the leading hyperloop companies just got an enormous boost in the form of funding from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. The multinational corporation that runs transportation and aerospace firms, such as Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic, invested an undisclosed amount in Hyperloop One, which shall henceforth be known as Virgin Hyperloop One.
Hyperloop technologies have taken some exciting steps forward in recent years, as the first test tracks and pod designs are starting to come to fruition. By using magnetic levitation and electric propulsion to accelerate a pod through a tube at near-vacuum, hyperloop hopefuls believe they can transport passengers at speeds up to 700 mph, providing airline speeds on the ground.
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Early tests of the technology have achieved speeds around 200 mph, including SpaceX’s hyperloop pod competition and Hyperloop One’s own test runs on a track in the Nevada desert that have hit a top speed of 192 mph. “Earlier this summer I was fortunate to visit the site and see first-hand the exciting technology being tested,” Richard Branson wrote in a blog post announcing the investment from Virgin Group. “I was very impressed and now look forward to helping turn this cutting edge engineering into a global passenger service.”
Elon Musk propsed the idea for hyperloop transportation in a white paper released in August 2013. Musk initially said he would leave construction of a hyperloop to others and would simply provide support for pod design through SpaceX’s competition, but after starting a tunnel boring company, he decided to go ahead and build a hyperloop of his own. Now that Richard Branson and Virgin Group have thrown their support behind Hyperloop One, two billionaire transportation moguls will be competing to build the high-speed ground transit of the future.
Virgin Hyperloop One is eyeing projects across the world, from the Middle East to the United States. A hyperloop track could transport passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in as little as 30 minutes.
Before we can fly through vacuum tubes at nearly the speed of sound, however, hyperloop technologies will need to advance quite a bit. The air-tight tubes need to be closer to true vacuum, the maglev acceleration needs to increase which will require more power, and protecting hyperloop tracks from environmental factors such as earthquakes is still a major concern.
Still, the technology is promising, and recent tests have proven it is viable. How fast the first passenger hyperloops will travel, and from where to where, is still anyone’s guess, but it looks more and more like vacuum tube transportation is a wave of the future.
Source: Virgin Group