We’ve just had our first public test of Hyperloop and, well, while it was a little underwhelming, the implications are still pretty huge.
Yesterday, Hyperloop One tested the propulsion system it will use to power this futuristic technology on a railed test track in the Nevada desert. The company, previously known as Hyperloop Technologies (it changed its name to prevent confusion with its rival, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, or HTT), says this is a major step towards making the Hyperloop dream a reality.
The test itself lasted just a few seconds. In a video, you can see how the sled, using electromagnets, accelerated at 2.5 Gs to 187 kilometers per hour (116 miles per hour) in 1.1 seconds, before sand bags are used to slow it down, as brakes haven’t yet been developed. The sled, about 3 meters (10 feet) long, traveled just 100 meters (330 feet) on a rail. Essentially, this sled is the bottom part of the pods that will one day transport humans up to 1,220 km/h (760 mph) inside vacuum-sucked tubes across vast distances.
Various members of the media, and investors in this fledgling company, had gathered to watch this test, called a propulsion open-air test (POAT). But while short, it should be noted that this is the first public test of its kind. Neither rival HTT, nor Elon Musk’s SpaceX (he who first dreamed up the idea of the Hyperloop), have done this before. That, in itself, is cause for celebration.
“I think you have to understand that is a completely new propulsion system," Hyperloop One’s co-founder, Shervin Pishevar, told The Verge. “This was to show everyone we're actually building this. This is real."
The company also announced it had formed a range of partnerships with several companies, including British construction firm Arup. "Hyperloop has the potential to solve many of today's most complex long-distance transport issues," said Gregory Hodkinson, Arup Group chairman, in a statement.
This test comes on the back of a string of Hyperloop news. From investments in Europe (both Slovakia and France are interested in the technology) to advancements in the propulsion technology that the pods will use, the race to build the first working Hyperloop track is well and truly on.