Hyperloop is a new form of ground transport currently in development by a number of companies. It was released by a joint team of SpaceX and Tesla in order to transport people or objects at hypersonic speeds. It is a tube like structure through which a pod may travel resistant free and being energy efficient compared to existing high speed rail systems. These pods are designed such that they float on air skis similar to that of magnetic levitation. Hyperloop came into public consciousness in 2013 when Elon Musk introduced the concept in a research paper which posited the Hyperloop as “a fifth mode of transport after planes, trains, cars and boats that is:
- Lower cost
- More convenient
- Immune to weather
- Sustainably self-powering
- Resistant to Earthquakes
- Not disruptive to those along the route
Passengers or cargo are loaded into the hyperloop vehicle and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The vehicle floats above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag.
India is the first country to launch the fully functional Hyperloop train. The Hyperloop transportation system has been designated a “public infrastructure project” by the state of Maharashtra. But the major disadvantage with hyperloop is that even if it has a small crack in it, outside air would enter the tubes at the speed of sound, and the infrastructure would implode. It is said that the Hyperloop would be vulnerable to terrorist attacks because it would be difficult to monitor 600 km of tubes.
VIRGIN HYPERLOOP ONE
An American transportation technology company launched Virgin Hyperloop One in 2014, hyperloop’s leading contender, with the aim of working to commercialise the high-speed technology. Virgin Hyperloop One calls itself-
“the only company in the world that has successfully tested its hyperloop technology at scale, launching the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years.”
The company successfully operated a full-scale hyperloop vehicle using electric propulsion and electromagnetic levitation under near-vacuum conditions. Eventhough the crtics of hyperloop have said that travelling would be uncomfortable, the Virgin Hyperloop One said that it would feel as if we are travelling in an elevator or a flight.