Virgin Hyperloop has begun drumming up hype for their ultra-fast levitation transport network once again and has released a video showing off their design plans for the passenger pods. In a tweet by CEO and Founder Josh Geigel, the company shows off its progress so far and some new pod concepts in an effort to help explain how hyperloops work.
However, as the video is simply a CGI rendering of the final product and there has been limited news of progress, many are taking the stance that the video is purely an effort to maintain interest in the idea.
“Basically, citation needed for the whole thing,” writes Gareth Dennis, railway engineer and critic of Virgin Hyperloop, in a reply.
“What's happened here is that [Josh Giegel] has paid for a glossy video that says "everything works and is great" with nothing more than some CGI and a giant winky face,” he writes in another.
While critics may be dubious of how worthwhile putting effort into hyperloop technology actually is, investors and the US Government are certainly not. This month, a $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment was passed by the US Senate that specifically includes the development and deployment of hyperloop technology. It will now be eligible for federal funding, in the hopes that the US can finally get the network running.
Hyperloops are high-speed transport systems in which pods are levitated through a vacuum in a closed tube system. Pushing speeds of up to 1,200 kilometers per hour (750 miles per hour), the pods utilize powerful magnets to hover above the tunnel surface, eliminating friction and minimizing G-forces on the passenger. In November 2020, Virgin demonstrated the technology to be functional, completing their first passenger test successfully at a more modest 170 km/h (105 mph).
“I can’t tell you how often I get asked ‘is hyperloop safe?,’” said Jay Walder, CEO at the time of Virgin Hyperloop, after completing the test.
“With today’s passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question, demonstrating that not only can Virgin Hyperloop safely put a person in a pod in a vacuum environment, but that the company has a thoughtful approach to safety which has been validated by an independent third party.”
For now, the teaser video is all we have to understand the future of hyperloops, but should the technology work, it could be revolutionary. Virgin claims that the pods will be entirely powered by battery, massively cutting emissions compared to traditional trains.