In the middle of the Nevada desert, just a few miles north of Las Vegas, sits a massive metal tube at the foot of the mountains. This tube, the Virgin Hyperloop, has a promise to revolutionize the way that we travel in the future.
The Virgin Hyperloop got its name thanks to Richard Branson and his Virgin Group, who are working to develop sci-fi-style pods to transport passengers at speeds of up to 750 miles per hour. The tube will use magnetic levitation to move through miles of special vacuum tunnels.
Josh Giegel, the chief executive and co-founder of the Hyperloop, said “It will feel like an aircraft at take-off and once you’re at speed.” During the November test run, the pod could be seen flying through 500 meters of tunnel.
“You won’t even have turbulence because our system is basically completely able to react to all that turbulence. Think noise-canceling but bump-canceling, if you will.”
Introducing The Pods to the Public
The large back mirror and off-white interior give the pods a bigger feel, providing passengers with a ride that feels more “inviting.”
“This pod was really the embodiment of ‘How do we take something that’s an idea and make it into something that’s a reality for us to sit in?’ Giegel said.
The History of the Hyperloop
The idea of the first “vactrain” came about in the early 1900s thanks to rocket scientist Robert Goddard. During the 1970s, the French tried to develop the Aerotrain, though due to a lack of funding, the country had to disband the project.
By 2013, Elon Musk began reigniting the interest in this potentially new system. During the time, Giegel was working at Musk’s SpaceX, where he saw new technology catching up to the idea.
According to Giegel, the Hyperloop required special electronics, batteries, and sensors, which were not ready at the time.
“We’re at like the very bleeding edge of what a high-speed autonomous battery-powered vehicle is,” said Giegel.
The Virgin Group is settings its sights on India for the development of the first passenger routes, as the current transport system there is overcrowded. The group is also looking to Saudi Arabia, as the country lacks a proper transportation infrastructure.
“It starts off with two people riding a Hyperloop. It ends with hundreds of millions of people riding on a Hyperloop and that’s what the 2020s, the roaring 20s will be,” Giegel said.