An ooh-la-la Hyperloop capsule is being built, next year's big peek in Toulouse

March 23, 2017 by Nancy Owano

(Tech Xplore)—The next chapter in train transport will make it difficult for you even remember there was a last chapter involving units and people by land.

No more a pipe dream, the concept of our being away to flit from one place to another in pods—whooshing through tubes at higher speeds than dreamed of—is taking shape.

The latest news is that we are getting closer to the first full scale passenger capsule. The people behind this is Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).

A Tuesday announcement from Playa Vista California, said the big "reveal" event will take place in Toulouse, France, next year. That is the site of HTT's research and development center. HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn said, "It has been crucial in our development to go past the simple requirements of freight in order to build a better and safer system for everyone."

So, hold on to your hats and plan on arrival times in minutes, not hours. The 20-ton capsule that can hold 28 to 40 people and travel 760 mph is being built for 2018 delivery. It goes by the straightforward name of Passenger Hyperloop Capsule.

HTT and Spanish firm Carbures have started work on it; the Daily Mail referred to it as the "radical pod." With that said, it may be best not to think about the new system as being a child of trains.

Darrell Etherington in TechCrunch commented that "A Hyperloop system is, in many ways, a ground-level airplane: both are capsules designed to travel through extremely low-pressure environments, taking advantage of reduced friction to achieve very high speeds."

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In turn, "For manufacturing partner Carbures," he said, "this is probably an extremely interesting and unique engineering project, where it can test its considerable aerospace engineering expertise and experience. HTT Board Member Ramón Betolaza called Carbured a consolidated leader in the structural composites world.

In their Tuesday announcement, HTT presented final specs, including length as 30 meters (98.5 feet); diameter as 2.7 meters (9 feet); weight as 20 tons; passenger capacity as 28-40; and speed, up to 1223 km/h (760 mph).

Eric Mack in CNET broke it down in human terms, saying "clocking in at 98.5 feet (30 meters), the Hyperloop capsule is about double the length of a New York City subway car."

So where will this be used? According to the press release, "The will then be utilized in a commercial system soon to be announced from the ongoing negotiations and feasibility studies currently taking place around the world."

Earlier this month, HTT announced the signing of an agreement for a feasibility study, which it said was the first Hyperloop agreement in Southeast Asia. "This agreement marks the immediate exploration of the feasibility for a Hyperloop system for Indonesia with an initial focus on Jakarta, and a full exploration of Hyperloop transportation connecting Java and Sumatra."

Founded in 2013, the company said in its press release that it has "an exclusive agreement with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for use of their passive magnetic levitation system as the core of low-cost, safety-conscious design and construction of the Hyperloop."

Eric Mack on Tuesday in CNET reported that HTT Communications Director Ben Cooke said via email that "We are looking at completely different interior concepts that go beyond just seating. That will be part of one of our future updates."

CNET also reported that "HTT says one of the capsules would be able to leave a departure station as frequently as every 40 seconds, making it possible to transport up to 164,000 passengers per day."

Explore further: 'Hyperloop' rail study for Slovakia-Czech connection

More information: www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-first-full-scale-passenger-hyperloop-capsule-is-being-built-300426932.html

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