Hyperloop: The Future of Transportation?
What is Hyperloop?
Hyperloop is cutting-edge, high-speed transportation technology that has the potential to transform how we travel – and even how we ship freight. This new travel mode started gaining traction in 2013 after Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, shared his vision of a new way to transport passengers: Hyperloop Alpha. This transportation system would consist of magnetically levitated pods that travel through tubes at speeds up to 760 miles per hour, which is just below the speed of sound!
How Does Hyperloop Technology Work?
The hyperloop is made up of three main parts:
- Tube: The tubes can be built below or above ground. By removing most of the air from the tube, friction and air pressure are reduced, enabling transportation at very high speeds.
- Capsule: Capsules, or the pods that hold passengers, travel within the tubes. The capsules “float” inside the tube with the help of magnetic levitation or air-bearing skis. To put this into perspective, it’s like a puck on an air hockey table that travels along on a cushion of air.
- Electric Motor: To get the capsule moving, it is powered by an external linear electric motor, which is just like a normal circular motor, just flattened. Since the tube works like a vacuum, the capsule moves without much help from the motor, which only gives it a “boost” about every 70 miles, helping it to maintain its high speed. Also, the motor is powered by solar panels, allowing an abundance of sustainable energy to be stored.
What Are the Benefits of Hyperloop?
Since hyperloop systems are powered by solar panels, it is a more sustainable way to travel compared to traditional transportation modes, like truck or plane. In addition, the infrastructure is cheaper to build. In fact, Musk stated the infrastructure will be one-tenth the amount of high-speed rail infrastructure. And, obviously, it’s a lot faster, too. If hyperloop becomes a reality, it will become (by far) the fastest option for ground transportation.
Hyperloop has several other benefits, which include:
- Convenience - Since hyperloop would be the fastest ground travel option, it is a lot more convenient for passengers to travel.
- Weather immunity - Since the capsules travel in a tube, it is protected from weather, like wind, rain, snow, fog and ice.
- Earthquake resistant - The tubes are not built at a fixed point like other high-speed ground-based rail systems, but instead are built on pylons (structures that support the tube) with adjustable dampers. The pylons adjust to new positions of the earth when the earth’s tectonic plates shift.
- Safety - Since this transportation mode is immune to weather and resistant to earthquakes, it is a safer way to travel. In addition, hyperloop has emergency mechanisms that will be triggered if anything goes awry.
How Will Hyperloop Impact Freight Transportation?
The hyperloop has the potential to be the future of transportation for both passengers and products. As of last November 2020, four passengers safely traveled on the Virgin Hyperloop, making transportation history. Believe it or not, hyperloop could be available for passenger travel sooner than you might think. It is not decades away, but mere years away.
And who knows? It’s not too far-fetched to think that hyperloop may one day also carry freight. In the future, hyperloop could be transporting a wide variety of goods – just like trains, trucks and planes do today.
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