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Hyperloop: The Super Sonic Future of Transportation

Written by Melanie Herbert And Molly Cantillon

Our world is dependent on transportation. Whether it be immigrating to another country, shipping products across the world, or commuting to work each day, cars, trains, buses, boats, and planes are used every day for all sorts of purposes. However, as technology continues to advance and develop, electrical and mechanical engineers all over the world are hypothesizing and designing a new, more efficient method of transportation. It’s called “Hyperloop”, and it is the future of transportation.


A hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and freight transportation containing little resistance and friction to be able to travel at hypersonic speeds while being energy efficient.


The Potential Benefits


So, why bother to create a new method of transportation? Looking into research figures, it is shown that when using a Hyperloop, a trip from London to Birmingham, which regularly takes 83 minutes by the national rail, would take only nine minutes when using hyperloop. Not only is hyperloop cutting down the time of shorter distances, such as the one just mentioned, but the system’s speed is exponential. Take the trip from London to Newcastle, which regularly takes approximately 175 minutes, takes only 22 when using hyperloop – saving 149 minutes. In a world where time is our most precious commodity, time-saving systems aren’t just efficient but can save more lives and make greater improvements for society. Just think about how much more society would be able to accomplish if transportation took mere minutes.


Furthermore, Hyperloop is not only designed to carry passengers but also meant to transport goods as well. With Hyperloop, the delivery time would improve, there would be less damage to packages and a decrease in the number of delivery cars, resulting in fewer fossil fuels being burned into the atmosphere. By being both time effective and eco-friendly option of transportation, Hyperloop is our future, and engineers are already busy testing out designs.

How does it work?


The hyperloop encloses capsules inside of a reduced-pressure tube with low air resistance and friction, which allow trains to travel at airplane speeds while still on the ground. In fact, the pressure in these tubes will be so low that it will have the same effect as flying 150,000 feet above the ground.


There are multiple prototypes currently being worked on: some use air-bearing skis to move the capsule similar to how an air hockey table moves a puck, while others use magnetic levitation to allow the passenger pods to glide above the tracks. One reference states that each capsule would be able to “carry 28 passengers (and [potentially] up to 40) plus some luggage”.



The Potential Downsides to Hyperloop


Although Hyperloop seems to be effective and efficient, there are several challenges hyperloop faces in both constructions along with its impact on society. The biggest speed bump hyperloop faces are the cost of the technology and elaborate tube system which is estimated to cost millions of dollars. As explained before, the electric propulsions through a low-pressure tube used to power the hyperloop cost a deep amount. Furthermore, the installation would require a large number of trees to be cut down, leading to environmental loss.


An Update: What is currently happening with Hyperloop?

There are a number of companies working to bring the concept of a Hyperloop into fruition, including startups and companies of all sizes. The most notable developer of this technology is Virgin Hyperloop One, a company aiming to create a commercially viable Hyperloop system. Founded in 2014, it has raised over $295m and has 11 projects underway in many parts of the US. One project, the Cheyenne-Houston route which would run 1,152 miles across four states, would dramatically reduce travel time from 17 hours to 1 hour and 45 minutes by car.



This technology’s impact could be life-changing for millions, even billions. The founder of the Virgin group who heads this project, Sir Richard Branson, believes that the “Virgin Hyperloop One could have the same impact upon India in the 21st century as trains did in the 20th century”, revolutionizing the way people transport all over the globe.


References:


“How Will Hyperloop Systems Affect Society and Transport?” Intelligent Transport, 16 July 2019, www.intelligenttransport.com/transport-articles/74281/hyperloop-systems-society-transport/.

Ranger, Steve. “​What Is Hyperloop? Everything You Need to Know About the Race for


Super-Fast Travel.” ZDNet, ZDNet, 16 Aug. 2019, www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-hyperloop-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-future-of-transport/.


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