A new form of ground transport is known as the Hyperloop. It is a concept developed by the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, and Space X. The vision of Elon Musk is to link the cities across the globe using ultra-fast travel pods. He calls it the fifth mode of transport in addition to cars, planes, trains, and boats. These traveling pods are metallic tubes that can travel at 750 miles an hour (1,210 kph).
The concept of the Hyperloop by Elon Musk explains that there will giant-low pressure tubes above or below the ground. Several companies are working on the development of the Hyperloop. The initial concept was to take the people from downtown Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.
History of Hyperloop
Robert H. Goddard proposed the vactrain concept in 1904. This concept was then depicted in movies like Genesis II in 1973. It was elaborated in the movie using a sub shuttle that interlinked the cities and continents. In July 2012, Elon Musk mentioned his vision about the fifth mode of transport known as Hyperloop.
This hypothetical high-speed transportation would be having the characteristics of immunity to weather, twice the speed of a plane, collision-free, low power consumption, and energy storage for 24-hours operations. From 2012 to 2013, engineers of Tesla and Space X have been working on this concept and designed an early system that described the potential design of Hyperloop, function, cost, and pathway.
The first one-mile track was announced in June 2015 by Space X. The track was tested using the pods designed by the third party in the competition. The prototype of the pod was developed by MIT Hyperloop. It used the electrodynamic suspension for levitating and eddy current braking.
What Makes Hyperloop Different?
The major difference between a traditional train and an Hyperloop is that the pod carries the passengers traveling in a tube or tunnel. The traditional train experiences air friction, but in Hyperloop, the air has been removed to reduce the friction and to increase the traveling speed. Secondly, the train travels using the wheels, but the pods are designed to float on air skis.
The concept of Hyperloop also comes from the air hockey table or the use of magnetic levitation that reduces friction. The pods or capsules are sent from one place to another in a steel tube that maintains the partial vacuum. The pods float on a 0.02 to a 0.05-inch layer of air. It was extracted from the air hockey table in which pucks are levitated above.
The levitated pods or capsules can travel faster than the traditional train because they are not having wheels that cause friction with rail.
Where Will the Hyperloop Services Run?
There is not a clear plan that where the Hyperloop service will be available. The companies have stretched out the routes in U.S., Europe, and some other countries. The potential routes will be as following:
- New York to Washington DC
- Kansas City to St Louis
- Pune to Mumbai
- Vijayawada to Amaravati
- Mumbai to Chennai
- Bratislava to Brno
- Toronto to Montreal
- Miami to Orlando
- Cheyenne, Denver, and Pueblo
- Dallas, Laredo, and Houston
- Chicago, Columbus, and Pittsburgh
- Mexico City to Guadalajara
- Edinburgh to London
- Glasgow to Liverpool
- Bangalore to Chennai
When Will Be the First Hyperloop Available?
Several companies are working on commercializing the Hyperloop. The basic concept has been around for years but still, it is in the development stage. The trials of the technology have been running since 2015, and it is expected to be available for commercial use in 2021 or later years.
What Is Hyperloop Alpha?
The Hyperloop Alpha was released as an open-source design that accelerates the pods using a linear electric motor. The pods glide above the track using air bearing and travel through the tube or tunnel. the design and system of Hyperloop Alpha are supposed to be energy-efficient.
Elon Musk argued that the Hyperloop Alpha will be faster, safer, affordable, self-powering, weather-proof, and less disruptive to the nearest inhabitants on the route. In alpha design, the passenger-only pods are 7ft 4 inches in diameter. The pods will be able to reach the top speed of 760 mph while maintaining aerodynamic efficiency. You will be able to travel between the cities having 900 miles or 1500km distance.
How Does an Hyperloop Tube Work?
In high-speed travel, overcoming the air resistance increases energy use. Airplanes climb to the higher altitudes where there is less dense air. In the Hyperloop concept and design, capsule or pods are enclosed in a reduced-pressure tube which allows them to travel at the speed of an airplane while remaining on the ground. Air friction is reduced by removing the air from the tubes by the pumps.
Elon Musk’s Hyperloop model states that the air pressure inside the tube is almost one-sixth of the pressure of the atmosphere on Mars.
How Does an Hyperloop Capsule Work?
According to Elon Musk’s model of Hyperloop, the capsules will float on a set of 28 air-bearing skis. The most important thing to note here is that it is not the track but the pod that generates an air cushion. This makes it cheaper and simple. It can also use magnetic levitation rather than using air skis.
The Hyperloop Alpha will be powered by an external linear electric motor to initiate the pod from a static position. The linear electric motor will accelerate the pod to the high subsonic velocity and give a boost after every 70 miles. Each capsule will be carrying 28 passengers. With more advancement, it will be able to carry 40 passengers along with some luggage.
Other versions of pods will be able to carry the vehicles and cargo same as airplane and ships. The pod or capsule will depart from the station after every two minutes.
Is Hyperloop different from High-Speed Trains?
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla is working for Earth’s environment by manufacturing electric cars that do not emit any kind of smoke or involve fuel combustion. The Hyperloop concept is cheaper and energy-efficient. The track of the Hyperloop does not provide power to the capsules or pods because they are powered by an external linear electric motor.
It is two to three times faster than the high-speed trains and 10 times faster than regular train service. There are no wheels that cause friction as compared to high-speed trains. There is air friction in high-speed trains but Hyperloop is designed with no air friction.
Benefits of Hyperloop
Once the Hyperloop is available for commercial use, it will be a lot beneficial to the public. Right now, it is still in the developing phase. But it is considered as the fifth mode of transport that will be environment friendly.
- You will be able to travel within minutes from one city to another.
- It will take off the pressure from the gridlocked roads.
- Hyperloop will be faster and cheaper than train or car for traveling.
- The pods or capsules will be comfortable and safe.
- There will be multiple and efficient emergency braking systems.
- Acceleration and deceleration will be gradual as compared to the traditional trains.
- A windowless pod will provide a passenger with their entertainment system.
Although the concept has been there for a long time, technology has been lacking. The well-funded companies are racing to deliver the first commercial Hyperloop services. Elon Musk and Space X have been doing research and development, experiment and trials of Hyperloop. Only a prototype is available at MIT Museum since May 13, 2016. It is one of the multibillion-dollar projects that are still in the developing stage.