We are back with the news on Hyperloop! The sci-fi kind of technology is actually taking shape in this world making a rigorous headway across the smart cities. Anticipated to be the fourth mode of commutation in the future (not considering space transportation), currently, the technology is going through the development stage while several ambitious tech giants have wrapped up with successful testing phases.
Hyperloop technology which came as an inspiration from the controversial US entrepreneur Elon Musk is not a comprehensively new invention, but an updated version of the century-old principles that come from the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The pioneering British engineer conducted experiments with transport carriages using compressed air towards the end of the 19th century as explained by Chris Dulake, global railways and transit leader at consultancy Mott MacDonald that has worked on the Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. The original prototype of the engineer’s work is at display in the Brunel Museum in Bristol.
As more travellers are seeking to switch from air to rail travel, owing to extraordinary features of Hyperloop, big companies are making huge investments to make it a tangible reality.
During the testing phase, the technology is likely to have an effect on the environment, as companies working on Hyperloop admit. Some of this impact may be witnessed after the transport mode becomes fully operational. However, Tim Houter, CEO and co-founder of Hardt Hyperloop stated that it will be ten times more efficient compared to flights and even more efficient than conventional train journeys.
The Hyperloop Showcase In US Cities
These days, Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), American mass transportation company working on the technology is making headlines. The company is about to execute a tour in three cities namely Columbus, Arlington, and Kansas City to showcase its innovative version of the technology called the ‘XP-1 hyperloop pod’.
The company has confirmed the dates of the national roadshow that aims to begin a dialogue about the power of the one-of-the-kind transport system.
Jay Walder, CEO of VHO said, “Not everyone can come to the Nevada desert, so we’re bringing our technology to the people – the American people who will be riding this new form of transportation within a decade.”
Back in May 2017, VHO developed this full-size pod which reached speeds of 387 km/h while trialling it on the 550 yards of test track in Nevada desert. This was the world’s first-ever successful hyperloop test which VHO remembers as “Kitty Hawk” moment.
As per sources, this is the first time a company had incorporated every feature of a hyperloop in the testing phase. These included an efficient motor, magnetic levitation, power electronics, vacuum pumping systems and an aerodynamic vehicle as a single unified system.
Lately, the company has been successful in attracting $172 million in new funding to transform its dream into a rational reality, as per new filings with the US government. A minimum of $90 million has been invested by DP World, a major Dubai port operator.
Furthermore, VHO confirmed that nine states across the US are exploring the technology. The federal government has created a non-conventional and rising transportation technology (Nett) Council to proceed with safety and regulatory certification.
So coming back to the roadshow, as it will begin through the scheduled stops in the three cities it will enable a hands-on for people of all ages. The regional transportation councils are aiming to perform a feasibility study of particular routes along with an environmental impact study.
Moving past these cities, the XP-1 will also stop at restaurants, hotels, museums, parks, statehouses and stadiums to share the transport that will come with promising change for everyone.
As per the study, in a span of 25 years, the population of the region is expected to increase by three million. In an effort to manage the transportation of people, the Hyperloop transport system will play a major role in providing a faster, safer, and more efficient option for inter-city travel.
On 22 July 2019, SpaceX founded by Elon Musk held third part of its Hyperloop competition in California to encourage student teams and innovators from different parts of the globe to showcase their prototype technologies. The WARR Hyperloop contest was won by a student group from the Technical University of Munich, Germany as they focused on the speed aspect.
The winning team used a carbon-fibre built pod that reached a speed of 466 km/h on one-mile test track developed by SpaceX. The technology used by the students constituted of 50kW motor, an advanced pneumatic friction braking system that came to a halt within five seconds.
It is important to note that the pod developed by the German team was much smaller (a feature that made the pod five times faster than aeroplanes on the runway) than the XP-1 of VHO. It was more of a demonstration of the technology which can be developed into a full-scale system for real-world deployment.
Delft Hyperloop (Netherlands) and EPFPLoop (Switzerland) followed team WARR with their pods achieving speeds of nearly 142 km/h and 88 km/h respectively.
The only Asian team that made a debut in SpaceX global competition was from India. Avishkar Hyperloop from IIT Madras were among the 21 finalists out of more than 1,600 participants from across the world.
In India, VHO and DP World have received approval from a state government of India to Hyperloop which will curb a 3.5 hour journey into 35 minutes one.
A Trickier Competition Next Year
SpaceX has been carrying out this competition to support student innovation and development of hyperloop technology.
After this competition, Elon Musk revealed plans via Twitter to create a new vacuum tunnel for next year’s contest. As the last year winners were able to set a new record this year, he plans to make the next competition a bit challenging and intimidating tunnel.
Musk plans to replace the old 1.6 km long tunnel with a new that will be 10 km length. As per Verge, the new tunnel will run through curved track and not be straight.
Who Will Lead The Hyperloop Technology Market?
Companies working on Hyperloop technology are also focusing on its use in freight hauling. Considering the benefits of costs, there are many reasons to introduce the technology in this area. Moreover, it can transport goods at a fraction of time than road or rail transport.
Internationally, China is rapidly expanding its transportation system footprint in an attempt to reduce costs related to freightage. But as per market research, being a developing country, China is able to invest only 15% of its GDP on logistics which make it incompetent as opposed to the West where the average is approximately 10-12% of the GDP.
India is inviting global companies to deploy the technology in India. For example, DP World planning to launch its Hyperloop in India whereas VHO is also planning for passengers transport from Mumbai to Pune in India.
Considering the fact, Asia-Pacific is more likely to be leading the hyperloop technology market. This is mainly because companies associated with hyperloop development are focusing on the presence of few emerged economies and the population crisis leading to crowded streets, with most of the countries in Asia-Pacific facing these issues.
Europe will be following Asia-Pacific in this line. For example, London in the UK is a congested city with more than one million people travelling across the city each day. The transportation system of the city is operating beyond its capacity. And hence, as per a recent study in 2019, The UK shows tremendous potential for the implementation of the hyperloop transport system.
But as the advancements are evident, it is more likely that the world will have its first Hyperloop system operating in Asia-Pacific.
But there are some concerns related to Hyperloop. We will come back with the interesting read shortly.