Passengers have travelled in the Virgin Hyperloop for the first time in a test run that took place in the Nevada Desert.
The test run served as a key safety demonstration for the technology, which Richard Branson’s Virgin group hopes will revolutionise transportation.
Hyperloop staff members Sara Luchian, director of customer experience, and Josh Giegel, chief technology officer, were the two passengers on board, and travelled the length of a 500m test track in 15 seconds, reaching 107mph (172km/h). Luchian described the experience as “exhilarating both psychologically and physically”, while Giegel added: “When we started in a garage over 6 years ago, the goal was simple — to transform the way people move. Today, we took one giant leap toward that ultimate dream, not only for me, but for all of us who are looking towards a moonshot right here on Earth.”
The concept of the Hyperloop was proposed by Tesla Founder Elon Musk and is based on the world’s fastest magnetic levitation (maglev) trains, then made faster by speeding along inside vacuum tubes. As the pods of the Hyperloop move suspended electromagnetically in airless tubes, they do not experience air resistance or friction against any kind of rail. Thus their speed is not limited in the same way it is in conventional trains.
Without these constraints on speed, the Hyerploop firm, which is based in Los Angeles, envisages a future where their pods can travel around a network of vacuum tubes at speeds of up to 600 miles per hour, enabling them to travel between distant locations with unprecedented quickness. Back in 2018, Rob Lloyd, who was the Hyperloop boss at the time, said the speed would in theory enable people to travel between Gatwick and Heathrow airports, 45 miles apart on opposite sides of London, in four minutes.
Following the successful test run, the company has stated it is working toward safety certification for the Hyperloop by 2025 and commercial operations by 2030.