Do you want to travel at 760 mph on your way to work? This might be reality in the near future.
Elon Musk wants to make it happen with the hyperloop–an experimental transportation system designed to move passengers and cargo at an extremely fast speed. The hyperloop concept was created in 2013 by Musk, who proposed a 350 mile (563 km) track running from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area, carrying cars at 760 mph (1,226 kph). This would be faster than any train or subway in use anywhere around the world. The track would be able to reduce land travel times from hours to minutes.
In July 2018, SpaceX held a competition to refine the technology used in the super fast hyperloop. Teams from universities all around the world participated, the winning team was from the Technical University of Munich. Their pod hit a top speed of 290 mph (457 kph) on a 1.2 km track in California. Last year student teams had the option of accelerating their pod down the test track with support from a SpaceX-made vehicle called a “pusher.” Although this run was the fastest test ever, the ride was bumpy and could have gone faster.
Despite such bumps, technologically advanced nations such as France, Sweden and the U.A.E. have expressed their interest in the hyperloop, attracted to its promise of speed, safety, and environmental friendliness In the states, Musk’s Boring Company has received a permit to begin making a hyperloop station in Washington, D.C. and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is carrying out a study for a hyperloop linking Chicago and Cleveland.
As proof of the system’s abilities, on December 10, Musk opened a new short track tunnel for the public in L.A. The new system is not a hyperloop, as it is not as fast and much smaller than the large hyperloop system. Passengers travel on an electric-powered platform called a “skate.” Users can drive their cars onto the skate, but pedestrians and cyclists can also ride in a hyperloop passenger pod carrying between 8 and 16 people. The claimed top speed of this tunnel is (150 mph).
Elon’s hyperloop uses a very complex system of high output electric motors, supplemented with an arrangement of air bearings and linear induction motors. A linear induction motor is a type of motor where a rotor is placed on top of an electrified rail embedded within the track. The rail constantly gives electricity to the motor in the pod which powers it. The passenger pod uses an electric air compressor that sucks in air from the front and dispurses it to the sides and back, making it more streamlined as it moves. This system helps create an air cushion under the pod and at the same time, uses air bearings to help the pod levitate. Hyperloop tubes are pressurized by large air compressors placed throughout them. The levitating system resembles an air hockey table where the air lifts the puck above the surface, making it easier to shoot forward without friction. To propel the system, the pod the uses electric motors similar to the the Tesla Model S. Instead of the engine creating rotational force, the motor will project the energy in a straight line. This motor will be able to propel the pod to a subsonic speed and make travel time much shorter.
The system claims to be the fastest and the most environmentally friendly way to transport people ever created. SpaceX can even place solar panels on top of the tube to use even less fossil fuels and keep environmental damage low. Musk stated that the project will cost $7-8 billion, but critics of the project claim it will cost more. Although the project is very costly, it is being privately developed and it will not use taxpayer money. Hyperloop may revolutionize everyday transportation, but that day is yet to arrive.