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Pneumatic tube travel (created using a vacuum system or compressed air), isn’t entirely a new invention. Throughout history the concept had been thought up by a number of pioneers and inventors but in terms of transporting people or large freight, nothing successful has ever happened.
That was until highly publicised entrepreneur Elon Musk introduced the concept. After working alongside investor Shervin Pishevar to further his concept of his tube- travel, Musk announced the idea at a event in 2012, naming the system ‘Hyperloop’. He likened the idea to a cross between a “Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table".
In 2013 the Hyperloop gained much global attention. Musk published a full white paper report for Hyperloop. This move had Obama’s administration approve Hyperloop which set the ball rolling for other parties to get involved with the creation stage.
A varied group of board members began to grow and Hyperloop One technologies came into being in 2014. Hyperloop One headquarters is now situated in Los Angeles but its testing and safety site is located in Nevada. To succeed Hyperloop would need to design and build some of the world’s most expensive, advanced tunnel systems and to achieve this Hyperloop has managed to raise over $245 million in financial backing over the last 4 years.
To operate, the Hyperloop vehicle floats within the low pressure tube system using magnetic levitation and aerodynamic drag, helping it travel at high speeds. The vehicle accelerates and breaks gradually by using electric propulsion and due to its tunnel network structure being fully enclosed and self-sufficient, it would never have any weather problems or pilot errors. The maximum speed of the Hyperloop has been estimated at 1090 kilometres per hour, twice the speed of the fastest rail system in existence.
Hyperloop boasts a completely energy efficient system and would be carbon free – able to utilise external energy, whatever the source; wind and solar power. The force propelling the Hyperloop is a linear electric motor, unique to a normal motor due to the rotar moving in a line and accelerating the pod vehicle down the tunnels.
In 2017 Hyperloop One conducted one of their most significant tests to date. The Hyperloop ran its first proper journey on its full scale Hyperloop test track in Nevada. The test achieved historic speeds of 310 km/h (192 mph), closer to the planned speeds it aims to reach in the next few tests. This milestone also proved that the Hyperloop’s pod design, mechanics and tunnel engineering worked successfully.
In October the Virgin Group announced its exciting global partnership with Hyperloop One. With this partnership, Richard Branson joined the board of directors and Virgin Group invested in Hyperloop One. The focus of this development will be passenger and mixed cargo travel. This strategic move will no doubt, fast forward the commercialisation phase of Hyperloop’s development.
Due to rapid development and interest from transport agencies and companies around the world, it could be only a matter of time before we see Virgin Hyperloop One revolutionise the way we travel. Virgin Hyperloop One announced on their website that they are working aggressively to meet a goal of having three Hyperloop production systems in service by 2021.
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