August 25, 2021 report
Virgin Hyperloop lays out its plans for the future
The team at Virgin Hyperloop has released a video detailing the company's plans for building its version of a hyperloop system. In the video, a voiceover describes the type of hyperloop the company plans to build, and differences between it and other designs.
Hyperloops are, in essence, maglev trains that travel inside of a near-vacuum tube—the absence of air reduces drag resulting from air friction, allowing the train to travel faster and with less effort than traditional trains. The idea for a hyperloop has been around for nearly a century, but it was Elon Musk who brought the idea of actually developing such systems to the forefront back in 2013. Since that time multiple entities have begun exploring the idea as well. One such entity, Virgin Hyperloop is part of the Virgin empire created by Richard Branson. The group there made headlines this past November when two of its members climbed inside a test pod and traveled at speeds up to 172 km/hour on a 500-meter hyperloop test track outside of Las Vegas.
In its video, the company is suggesting that the main difference between its hyperloop and competitors is the idea of an individual pod-based system rather than a train-type system. With the Virgin Hyperloop, passengers would sit in a pod that would not be attached to other pods—each would be a vehicle traveling on its own. By not hooking the cars together, the pod design allows for individual pods to break away from other pods around them (in caravans) and head off into a secondary tube.
The company is also revealing that it has plans for its pods to travel up to 1,070 km/hour and that they have designed a battery power option for its system that will be more efficient than those used on maglev trains. They note also that their approach will produce no direct emissions—they also optimistically predict that the company will be ferrying tens of thousands of riders per hour sometime in the near future, at airplane speeds.
In prior announcements, officials with Virgin Hyperloop have expressed their desire to begin carrying passengers as early as 2027, though they have also acknowledged there are still many obstacles to overcome, such as working within governmental regulations, and tube construction issues.
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