Mass Transit

We've Got Initial Hyperloop Testing—and Competition!

No tubes yet, but they're coming.

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We have real world, not-just-theoretical Hyperloop action! Yesterday, out in the Nevada desert, Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies) gave its first public test of a very early iteration of the technology it will be using to create its version of the Elon Musk-inspired mass transit system.

The Hyperloop (for those who have not been paying attention) was conceptualized by Musk back in 2013 as a way to use pressurized tubes to transport cargo and people long distances at extremely high speeds—more than 700 miles per hour. Musk drew part of his inspiration from a desire to create a more efficient, faster, and cheaper version of California's proposed completely subsidized high-speed rail, Gov. Jerry Brown's pet boondoggle with out-of-control costs.

Musk is not actually building the Hyperloop himself. He set the idea free and startups have taken on the task of trying to actually make the thing real (and securing private funding to do so—something California hasn't been able to manage with its train).

Hyperloop One brought media out to see its test of an open track yesterday. Though apparently the open track can reportedly reach speeds of 400 miles per hour, CNN noted that this test yesterday hit only 116 miles per hour. But it did so in less than two seconds:

They are building the actual tubes right now (you can see pictures at their site) and are hoping to have a 1.5-kilometer enclosed test track operational by the end of the year. Hyperloop One hopes to be moving cargo by 2019 and people by 2021.

But Hyperloop One is not the only people out there seriously working on making this theoretical project real. There's also Hyperloop Transport Technologies, and on Monday they revealed information about the technology they're advancing. They're going to be approaching propulsion through a variation on the familiar magnetic levitation technology, or MAGLEV. Magnetic levitation is already used for some high-speed rail systems, and it's extremely expensive. Hyperloop Technologies wants to take a different spin on the technology via a "passive" levitation system that would put its magnetic systems on the travel pods themselves rather than down the entire track. They believe this would significantly reduce infrastructure costs.  Here's an explanatory video from them:

Hyperloop Transport Technologies announced in March they had entered into an agreement to bring their technology to Slovakia to build a track. They're hoping to connect it later to Austria and Hungary. Hyperloop Tranpsort Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn said they also planned to break ground this year on a test track in Quay Valley, California, and was hoping to transport customers by 2019. Reason interviewed Ahlborn about his plans back in 2015. Watch below:

While we have no idea whether these transportation methods will prove to be viable, it's interesting to watch this all develop without direct government subsidies so far. However, Hyperloop One is attempting to land tax credits and incentives worth millions in Las Vegas. We also don't know what the future could entail, should the tests prove successful. A proposed high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas was originally marketed as being privately funded, but then later they started seeking out government loans.

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59 responses to “We've Got Initial Hyperloop Testing—and Competition!

  1. I bet my tax dollars are paying for this too. Somehow.

    1. You can comfort yourself with the knowledge that those dollars are no longer yours.

    2. The Internet was developed using tax dollars. You like the Internet, don’t you? It’s about time we applied the “series of tubes” technology to physical transportation.

      1. Wow. All criticism of tube-based technologies withheld. I heart tubes.

  2. TRANEZZZ!

    1. Nothing runs like a Trane.

      1. Except a Carrier, of course.

  3. Just what urban areas will these loops connect without setting off a thousandexpensive years of environmental studies, eminent domain injustices, NIMBY wailing, etc. etc.? Maybe a good idea when (if) we get to a virgin planet but not in good old U.S.A.

    1. And there will be what ,one stop in each city and you’ll need a rental car or cab to go to your destination. I assume there will be two tubes,one each way.Yeah,that will get dome.Hell of a lot more land needed than air travel.I’m sure the TSA will get involved too.

      1. A 700 mph max speed doesn’t do you much good when you have to stop every five miles. So, yeah, stops every fifty miles or so with other forms of transit to take you the last few miles.

        1. That’s what electric scooters are for!

          1. Wow! They’ll have to reconfigure cities!

  4. Don’t worry. Government will find a way to ruin it.

    1. I think creech above has it covered – lots of awkward turns required to avoid endangered species so that it can’t get up to high speed

      1. I suppose it would have to be earthquake-proof as well.

      2. Hey,what can we do to put libertarians on the Endangered Species List? I’d like to be immune from eminent domain.

      3. But since the production version is going to run inside low-pressure tubes those tubes could be buried underground when needed. Increases expense and decreases user experience, but solvable.

  5. I still like this one:

    Swiss Servator – past LTC(ret)|7.16.13 @ 1:00PM|#

    Mongo no understand…something to do with where choo-choo tubes goes

  6. I don’t want to ride a train, much less a train inside a fucking metal pipe

  7. Wake me up when someone installs Pneuma-tubes in a city for transporting goods and waste.

  8. No governmenf involvement, eh? Compare this to a 100 mph conventional train.

    (1) The projecy will need a lot of eminently domained land. Because a=(v^2)/r, the curve radius to produce the same sideways g force at 760 mph that you experience in a 100 mph train will be 7.6^2, or 58.8 * the radius of the train track curve. Same problem applies to elevation changes. There will be much more property disruption than with ordinary rail, and the NIMBYs fight conventional rail go death.

    (2) Infrastructure cost is very much higher than rail, which can’t cover its costs without subsidies. No way this will be done without subsidies

    1. Well, “project”, but I kind of like a portmanteau of “project” and “prophecy”.

      1. That wasn’t intentional? Claim it now! It’s a solid neologism. Projecy!

    2. Intention is to follow existing public right of ways (highways)

      Sharper turns would be handled by slowing down somewhat.

      Here is a blog post demonstrating how much it would stay within 50m of the center of the highway median while keeping a 600mph average.

      http://goo.gl/zWfd2w

      Its a lot less than a new, dedicated train line would take.

      1. A lot less eminent domainy that is.

      2. Slowing down would certainly be necessary.

        Getting access rights and building the route for that “rough curve” of I580 through the San Francisco suburbs could probably accomplished in finite time by the North Korean government in North Korea, but good luck in the USA.That’s the sort of thing that requires a lot of government intervention.

      3. 50 meters? That isn’t very close.

        1. Its not unusual for a rural interstate to have between 200-300 ft of right of way.

  9. So, it runs on Ritalin?

    1. No, it runs on neodymium — you know the stuff that only gets mined in China for various of reasons.

      1. So we will need Chinese labor to get the materials for this.

        1. And Chinese labor to build it. They are good at laying down tracks.

      2. Wow. I had no idea that had that many mimes in China.

        1. Since they have no freedom of speech there, many people are turning to silent self-expression.

  10. They set up a track of linear motors.

    /yawn

    Maybe I’d be more impressed if they weren’t demonstrating something that hasn’t been used on roller coasters in almost every theme park in the world for the last 20 years.

    1. I’m honestly trying to figure out what I just saw on the video. It looked like some sort of car/vehicle on a pair of tracks… that went kind of fast.

      1. Regular wheels on a steel track.
        Starting motion provided by linear motors.

        The same thing that is used at many roller coasters built in the last 20 years.

        They could have saved a lot of money by just buying everyone they wanted to show a ticket to Six Flags.

        1. Yeah, I thought the same thing. This “demonstration” really sends up a lot of red flags. When you have these “game changing technology” type companies that are looking for investors, you really worry about vapor-ware and people blowing smoke.

          The promise was a cylinder inside a tube that rode on a cushion of air, kinda like air hockey only the air is pumped from inside the puck. As far as I remember, there was no rail down the center of the tube. A simple linear induction motor in the sides of the tube would push the cylinder, which would then glide on the air cushion for a while, then get another push from the next motor section, etc.

          So the linear motor idea was always there, but I certainly didn’t picture it being a rail on the bottom, and the thing wasn’t supposed to roll on wheels. The motor wasn’t the tricky bit, it was the huge, miles long, partially evacuated tube with a cylinder inside that pumps air from in front down under the base for the cushion.

          As you said, pretty much any amusement park has a similarly sized linear motor for a train car. Top Thrill Dragster up at Cedar Point does zero to 120 in 3.8 seconds. A bigger load going faster, but reasonably comparable overall. Formula Rossa does zero to 150 mph in about 5 seconds. And these things carry passengers all day, every day.

          So unless I missed something, not much of a demo at all.

          1. Top thrill dragster uses hydraulic launch. This one uses magnets! That means this example was actually using older technology that has been around since the late 80s.

        2. Yeah, I thought the same thing. This “demonstration” really sends up a lot of red flags. When you have these “game changing technology” type companies that are looking for investors, you really worry about vapor-ware and people blowing smoke.

          The promise was a cylinder inside a tube that rode on a cushion of air, kinda like air hockey only the air is pumped from inside the puck. As far as I remember, there was no rail down the center of the tube. A simple linear induction motor in the sides of the tube would push the cylinder, which would then glide on the air cushion for a while, then get another push from the next motor section, etc.

          So the linear motor idea was always there, but I certainly didn’t picture it being a rail on the bottom, and the thing wasn’t supposed to roll on wheels. The motor wasn’t the tricky bit, it was the huge, miles long, partially evacuated tube with a cylinder inside that pumps air from in front down under the base for the cushion.

          As you said, pretty much any amusement park has a similarly sized linear motor for a train car. Top Thrill Dragster up at Cedar Point does zero to 120 in 3.8 seconds. A bigger load going faster, but reasonably comparable overall. Formula Rossa does zero to 150 mph in about 5 seconds. And these things carry passengers all day, every day.

          So unless I missed something, not much of a demo at all.

        3. Look, I’m not cheerleading for this, but show me a rollercoaster that does even 300 mph. This is a demo version; the production model will run inside a low-pressure tube to increase efficiency. And the fact that coasters have used this for years makes this a mature technology.

          1. And the fact that coasters have used this for years makes this a mature technology.

            The mature technology isn’t the groundbreaking technology promised, intrinsically. The point isn’t to establish induction motors as a public transport technology, you can ride on that today (decades ago in Disney and readily in other countries). The point is/was to establish hyperloop technology, the hybrid induction/pneumatic system.

            1. And the relevance to roller coasters is because the demo used wheels, which makes the even the earliest maglev more advanced/groubreaking/true-to-promise.

          2. Look, I’m not cheerleading for this, but show me a rollercoaster that does even 300 mph.

            Japan has a maglev train that does 374mph. Now. I guess until I see a demo using the actual technology the hyperloop is supposed to feature, I’m going to remain quietly unimpressed.

            http://www.slashgear.com/japan…..-22380159/

        4. They could have saved a lot of money by just buying everyone they wanted to show a ticket to Six Flags.

          Not to mention that Six Flags beat them to it by actually having some of the tubes in place.

  11. Shackford, you are dangerously close to giving the impression of being optimistic. Are you sure you want to go there?

  12. “Jones, come up with a cool acronym for our propulsion open air test.”
    “How does ‘POAT’ sound chief?”
    “Fantastic, Jones, now get to work on our systems heating and insulation test”

  13. A series of tubes….for people!

    1. I am gonna consider this a tie, since my comment above was also posted at 2:45PM.

      1. Oops, I looked at the wrong comment. Technically, I was a bit quicker, but you put a different flavor on the same joke, so we are cool.

  14. Are you single tonight? A lot of beautiful girls waiting for you to http://goo.gl/pI9ucn
    The best adult dating site!

    1. Do these girls have functioning tubes or are they like the Hyperloop?

  15. What does this mean for Jerry Brown’s low-speed Train to Nowhere?

    1. Acceleration and deceleration are not a big deal.
      If you increase speed by 6 miles per hour every second its not unlike an average car.

      Doing that would take a little over 2 minutes to reach top speed.

      Corners and elevation changes are where the challenge is going to be.

      1. er, that wasn’t supposed to go here

  16. Are they going to develop some type of anti-grav unit to keep the people inside from turning to mush during acceleration and deceleration? Semi-serious question.

  17. No tubes yet, but they’re coming.

    “…And they’re gonne be huge! You won’t even believe it!.” – George R.R. Musk

  18. “The Hyperloop (for those who have not been paying attention) was conceptualized by Musk back in 2013 as a way to use pressurized tubes to transport cargo and people long distances at extremely high speeds?more than 700 miles per hour.”

    Not true, the tube is a vacuum to help eliminate friction. This and hovering (like magnetic levitation) will make it capable of many thousands of miles per hour with very little energy required. This idea is much older than 2013 and has been used and theorized for many applications in the past.

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