How Hyperloop train technology will change global transportation
Hyperloop train was first proposed by my most popular tech guru Elon Musk, In Musk's vision, the Hyperloop would transport people via aluminum pods enclosed inside of steel tubes. He describes the design as looking like a shotgun with the tubes running side by side for most of the journey and closing the loop at either end. These tubes would be mounted on columns 50 to 100 yards apart, and the pods inside would travel up to 800 miles per hour.
And one more little detail:
The front of the pod would have a pair of air jet inlets sort of like the Concorde.
Yes, Musk plans to stuff you into a human-sized shotgun shell then fire you off into some lightly pressurized purgatory exactly 30 seconds after the last sucker and 30 seconds before the one after you. And you will do it. The reason for that is simple, and would be obvious by now if you had any math skills whatsoever.
While nothing like the Hyperloop has ever seen the light of day, it isn't some fantasy either. As a scientist assured Businessweek, which got the exclusive on Musk's plan, the system is based on "known technology," including some "used at amusement parks to get a roller coaster going."
the transportation system we call hyperloop would propel people- or cargo-filled pods over long distances through steel tubes. Magnetic levitation and big vacuum pumps would do away with pesky friction and air resistance, letting those bus-sized vehicles zip along at high speeds. It wouldn’t just be fast, Hyperloop would be cheaper and better for the environment than the planes, trains, and cars in which humanity putzes about today.
And like so many promised panaceas, it’s actually quite simple on the surface. The tubes and pods should be easy enough to build, but making hyperloop a reality takes more than a few good engineers and a small fortune or two. It will require a whole lot of legal maneuvering, regulatory wrestling, and a massive amount of political will and public buy-in. Infrastructure, you should know, is hard.
At its core, hyperloop is all about removing the two things that slow down regular vehicles: friction and air resistance. To do away with the former, you make the pod hover above its track, like a magnetic levitation train. Musk originally suggested doing this with air bearings, little jets of air on the bottom of the pod. Think of air hockey, he said, but where the air comes out of the puck instead of the table. Today, most hyperloop engineers have decided instead to rely on passive magnetic levitation. Where standard maglev systems are power hungry and expensive, this system uses an array of permanent magnets on the vehicle. When those magnets move over conductive arrays in the track, they create a magnetic field that pushes the pod up, no current required. A complementary magnet system (think of two magnets pushing off one another) would give the pods a push every few miles or so the near total lack of friction and air resistance means you don’t need a constant propulsion system.
As for air resistance, that’s where the tube comes in. (Yes, tubes also just feel like the future, but that’s not the point.) The tubes enclose the space through which the pods move, so you can use vacuums to hoover out nearly all the air leaving so little that the physics are like being at an altitude of 200,000 feet. And so, like a cruising airplane, a hyperloop needs only a little bit of energy to maintain the pods’ speed, because there’s less stuff to push through. More speed with less power gets you to where you’re going faster, greener and depending on energy costs may be cheaper too.
On Nov. 8, 2020, the Virgin Hyperloop took its first human passengers for a ride.
“It was probably one of the top two or three most incredible experiences of my life,” said Virgin Hyperloop CEO and co-founder Josh Giegel. “This idea of getting in something that you and the team created that was really just a concept and here it was in the flesh and in steel and carbon fiber and you’re sitting inside of it was really humbling and inspiring.”
Hyperloop conceived by Elon Musk, who then opened the design up for anyone or any entity that wanted to pursue it. Virgin Hyperloop is one such entity.
The first blast in the Virgin Hyperloop was only 500 meters long at the company’s test center outside Las Vegas. That works out to 1640 feet, more than a quarter mile but less than a half mile about from the bleach box to halfway through the shut-off area of your local drag strip. In that limited space, during which you have to also slow down and stop, top speed was only 108 mph. But it was still thrilling, as anyone who’s ever made a launch at a drag strip would know.
“You feel a little bit of acceleration, about what you’d feel in a sports car, about 0.6 to 0.7 gs,” said Giegel. “This was actually the first time I was on maglev and it was smooth.”
Maglev magnetic levitation is smooth because you are essentially floating on a magnetic field, not connected to anything. You are seated inside a pod that is hung from tracks on the top of a long steel tube and suspended by a magnetic field on the track on the top of the tube. To further reduce resistance, 99.9 percent of the air is sucked out of the tube. As a result, once the electromagnets are charged, the pod moves down the tube. Once a longer tube is constructed, as many of them will be one day between cities and across countries, the Hyperloop can travel at speeds of 670 mph, silently and smoothly, Virgin assures us.
“We’re building for fast, effortless journeys that expand possibilities,” Virgin says on its Hyperloop website. “Our system can propel passenger or cargo pods at speeds of over 1000 km/h. That is three times faster than high-speed rail and more than ten times faster than traditional rail.”
This fast speeding training is poised to revolutionize the transportation section by providing enormous social advantages. Primarily, you no longer have to live anywhere close to where you work. The incredible result of this is that it could allow us to redefine what cities look like. Perhaps what is in store in our future is an infinite suburb, with more fluid boundaries between people and places. A professor of Advanced Urbanism in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Alan M. Berger believes that transportation by Hyperloop will define what a city in the extended regional context of (one’s ability to commute) extra long distances in very short times. If the assertion by Professor Berger is correct, then the Hyperloop train will connect people and places in a fundamentally new way, an unprecedented feat ever achieved in the history of land transportation.
In addition to these larger societal benefits, Hyperloop train has the opportunity to a massive environmental impact. Compared to all current transportation systems, Hyperloop is projected to last longer, create fewer carbon emissions and reduce noise pollution. Because of the virtually frictionless environment, Hyperloop hardware undergoes less friction over time, resulting in improved longevity of the system and totally very low maintenance costs.
Also, because the whole system runs on electricity, it could have zero carbon emission if combined with solar power. Even if sustainable energy sources are not feasible to use, the system uses so little energy that it will still be more efficient that any form of transportation ever known or invented by man. Again, because Hyperloop pods are contained within the tube system, they will be nearly silent to the surrounding community, improving lives of humans and animals along the route. Not only about societal benefits, there are numerous personal benefits from this thrilling technology.
The invention of this Hyperloop train is poised at transforming the convenience of transportation, boasting numerous advantages to individuals. One of the very first individual benefits is pure speed. A seven hour journey by car is cut down to a little above thirty minutes journey by the Hyperloop train. This is one of the promises of the virgin Hyperloop; fortunately this is one out of thousands of promises. Commute time has a massive impact on personal stress levels, and decrease in commute time could save one from lots of headaches and stress. Another thing I won’t fail to mention in the Hyperloop train is that this mode of transportation could prove to be much safer, than cars and regular trains due to the removal of human operators. The system will be fully automated hence creating no space for human error, which is the cause of almost all transportation accidents as experienced today. Further to be said, the magnets in the system will be strong that derailing a pod should be nearly impossible, and weather is likely to have no effect on the system. The tubes are expected to be built to withstand earthquakes, tube depressurization, and power outages, which would result in an incredibly safe travel experience. Lastly, the price to ride Hyperloop is estimated to be only twenty dollars for a one way trip. The reason Hyperloop might be so cheap is that the energy costs to operate the system are so low. Less friction means less energy needed, which results in a lower cost per passenger per journey.
FUTURE OF HYPERLOOP
Despite the fact that this means of transportation Hyperloop is quite promising, it is still few years before commercializing and being technologically viable. The top speed of the fastest Hyperloop pod is currently only half of what estimates claim it can reach, and a lot of progress still needs to be made before the system can fulfill all expectations. The earliest Hyperloop is likely to become available this year being 2022, and only in select areas. The agenda is that at startup, Hyperloop will focus mainly on city to city transportation, but within the next decade, many proponents believe that it will be used in combination with concurrent innovations to redefine modern transportation.
Despite its potential benefits, many are still in doubt of the viability of Hyperloop system. This backlash is something that should be expected; the Wright Brothers who discovered the airplane also encountered same. There was a time when everyone thought that gliding through the sky at 30,000 feet was just another impossibility, yet in the present time there are over forty million flights in a year. We might just be in that same position with the Hyperloop as we once were in airplanes because Hyperloop is not as far-fetched as many believe. Massive strides have already been taken in the development of Maglev technology with trains and the fact that we are halfway to Hyperloop expected speed is promising.
The two major fears as to the safety of Hyperloop system is that
- In the Delft team's vision for Europe, for example, roughly 50 percent of the track will be underground, while 50 percent would be above it — theoretically leaving half of it exposed to an act of terrorism.
The very big question is as to how it will be protected?
- The Delft team's vision involves pods filled with 50 passengers departing every 30 seconds — that's two pods per minute, what if the pod ahead of me hits the brakes for some reason and pulls to a stop? Such an accident would be fatal, immediately, for all 100 people involved. Vleeshouwer, however, says his team's design "has very good brakes."If, for example, a pod up ahead failed, "the brakes are designed to bring [the pod behind it] to a standstill in 20-25 seconds."He calls this a "brick wall" scenario. Still, the math isn't fun.
If I'm 30 seconds behind the pod ahead of me, and it takes 25 seconds to stop, that leaves just five seconds for the first pod to send a "FAILURE" message to a server and then to my pod and the rest of the network.
As the world population increases at record rates, there is a growing interest in finding better solutions to transportation problems. Hyperloop might just be that transportation innovation that the society of our time needs desperately.