Virgin Hyperloop, which develops super-high-speed, levitating pod-based transportation system, has run its first human trials in Las Vegas, Nevada, the company said Sunday, adding that it was history being created.
The first passengers in the Virgin Hyperloop system were the company’s executives including Josh Giegel, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, and Sara Luchian, Director of Passenger Experience.
This was also the first time any humans participated in an in-person test of the hyperloop pod which is a levitating structure that can achieve very high speed inside a specialized tube.
The test-run took place at Virgin Hyperloop’s 500-meter DevLoop test site in Las Vegas and the newly-unveiled XP-2 vehicle, designed by BIG reportedly achieved speeds of up to 107 miles per hour (172 km per hour) at the company’s test site the company said.
Bjarke Ingels Group and Kilo Design custom-built the Virgin Hyperloop system keeping in mind passenger-safety and comfort in mind. The commercial vehicle could accommodate 28 people in a pod, but the test prototype had seating for two.
“I had the true pleasure of seeing history made before my very eyes – to witness the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years come to life,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of Virgin Hyperloop and Group Chairman and CEO of DP World — an Emirati multinational logistics company based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates which is a major investor in the technology.
CEO of Virgin Hyperloop Jay Walder said addressing the question of safety, that the latest demonstration proves the product safety puts humans in a vacuum environment.
“With today’s successful test, we have shown that this spirit of innovation will in fact change the way people everywhere live, work, and travel in the years to come,” Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group said in a statement.
Several candidates around the world, especially in Europe are testing and investing in a potentially commercial hyperloop transportation system to ferry humans and cargo at lightning speeds.
In July, Dutch tech startup Hardt implemented the cornerstone of Europe’s first hyperloop tunnel, aimed at connecting major European nations through the pod-based transport system, We The World reported in April.
What is a hyperloop?
Essentially it was a brainchild of the American technology mogul Elon Musk made open-source for further developments.
Hyperloops eliminate the need for a traditional railway track and instead uses a tube and a train (pod) specially made in accordance with each other to achieve great speeds, sometimes hypersonic.
The lack of air friction allows the so-called hyperloop to gain unimaginable speeds of up to 1000 miles/hour for land transport, thanks to low-pressure tubes.
Virgin Hyperloop’s test units, the images of which were accessed by We The World show state-of-art interiors with comfortable seating arrangements fastened with seat belts.
Virgin is aiming 2025 until safety certification and 2030 for commercial launch of its ambitious project.
While the technology has been on the open-source project since 2013, thanks to Musk, there has not been somewhat sloppy progress by regulators, in the technology that is said to be capable of achieving speeds faster than sound!
Regulatory attention and approval of governments determine the potential of a developing technology for the public good.
In Europe, the EU has set up what it calls the European Hyperloop Program, and initiative pushed by Dutch hyperloop start-up Hardt, “to develop hyperloop and associated components, culminating in a test track for demonstration and certification to allow commercialization.”
Earlier this year, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao and the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council unveiled the nation’s first hyperloop regulatory framework.
Virgin Hyperloop says this human trial has added momentum to the US regulatory framework over the project’s safety and efficacy, and the test also establishes Hyperloop’s eligibility to receive federal funding.