A capsule made out of Vibranium that travels at 760 mph! Sounds like a comic book, but is it fact or fiction?
In 2012, Elon Musk had a vision for the future of transportation. A vision that could transport the passenger from London to Scotland in only 45 minutes. No, this is not another attempt at building a Concorde plane but instead, another mode of transport all together. One that he would call “The Hyperloop”
What is it?
Simply put, the Hyperloop is an air vacuumed tube that a pod can travel through at super speeds. The pod can reach such speeds for two main reasons. Firstly, there will be no friction as the pod will levitate within the tube using magnets. Secondly as the tube has no air, there will be no wind resistance either. Without friction or wind resistance, there is nothing stopping the pod from travelling at sound breaking speeds.
The challenge was set to build the Hyperloop when Elon Musk created a 57 page report on how his design may work. Musk chose not to patent his idea but instead he challenged the world to make this idea a reality. Since then, multiple companies have been born with the goal of creating the world’s first functioning Hyperloop.
The Pod Race
Air travel speeds at ground level could change the way we live and work forever. Imagine living in London and working in Edinburgh!With a commute time of only 45 minutes, this could be a reality. This would ultimately create more job opportunities and less housing constraints in capital cities which surely, I do not need to explain what the many benefits could be.
Cities such as Dubai are crying out for this technology to connect them to the rest of the world and it’s no wonder then that multiple companies want to be the first to capitalise on this emerging market.
Reality or Pipe Dream
There have been criticisms that this whole idea sounds more fiction than science. With safety concerns being one of the core arguments against the hyperloop. Having people travel down a pipe in a pressurised environment at 760 MPH does sound like an accident waiting the happen. The possibilities of incidents such as an earthquake or even worse, terrorism, makes many people worried.
One of the ways to combat this is to create a really tough pipe. The company ‘Hyperloop Transportation Technology’ or ‘HTT’ for short is using a new ‘smart’ material to build with.
This smart material is 10 times stronger than steel with internal sensors that can relay critical data wireless to the operator. Don’t tell Marvel, but they call this material ‘Vibranium’.
But even with all the Vibranium in Uganda, we are still a long way off the first fully functional Hyperloop. HTT wants to have one built by 2021 but many engineers doubt that it will be complete by then. It took many years for train and air travel to fully take off and completing the Hyperloop by 2021 seems a little quick. It is argued that there are many issues with the Hyperloop that we don’t even know about yet and giving a release date so soon to today is unrealistic.
To many people, the idea of the Hyperloop sounds impossible, but at one point so did space and air travel. Who knows what the future holds but it does looks like soon (ish) ‘riding the tube’ may have a new meaning in London.