Virgin Hyperloop Touts Individual Pod Concept

Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop has released a glossy promotional video touting how its ‘zero emission’ passenger pods will operate.

In the video, found here, Virgin Hyperloop touted a future where its hyperloop pods can even replace passenger jets for long distance travel, but with no emissions.

The video shows the passenger pods using magnetic levitation to travel above 1,000km/h (600mph) through tubes containing a near-vacuum.

Convoy of pods

The Virgin Hyperloop CGI video shows separate passenger pods that can carry up to approximately 30 people, connecting to form a train.

The pods then travel in a convoy to a city, but each pod is able to leave the convoy (as they are not physically joined together) to go to separate destinations, much like a car choosing a particular off-ramp on a motorway.

Last November Virgin Hyperloop demonstrated its first crewed test-track journey, after two company staff (Josh Giegel and Sara Luchian) acted as passengers in Virgin’s “Experimental-Pod-2 (XP-2)”.

As that was an experiment, Virgin’s XP-2 pod only reached speeds of 107mph, but the acceleration was a bit fierce (it did the 500 metre track in 15 seconds) due to the short nature of the Virgin Hyperloop test track.

Future transportation?

A hyperloop is essentially a futuristic and (at this stage) an experimental concept that sees a pod placed within a vacuum tube that can travel at speeds as high as 600 mph.

Virgin’s system includes magnetic levitation, much like used on high speed rail in Japan and Germany.

The idea is that magnetic levitation lifts a train car above a track, and the magnets also propel the train.

The thinking behind the hyperloop system is that it could connect cities and aid in the rapid transportation of people, at speeds of up to 600mph (a bit faster than existing passenger jets).

The infrastructure can be built either above ground, or below ground, but this is a more expensive option as tunnelling is an money intensive process.

Virgin Hyperloop said that its future commercial systems will have pods that seat between 25 and 30 people.

However Virgin Hyperloop still needs to raise enough money for its next project, a six-mile, $500 million test facility in West Virginia.

The firm hopes to get its hyperloop system certified in 2025 or 2026, with potential hyperloop projects before the decade ends.

Whether this form of transportation will ever become a commercial reality in the future remains to be seen.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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