The Hyperloop programme, launched in 2013 by Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk which aims to be transporting passengers and freight on-board pods that levitate in low-pressure tubes at speeds of 1,200 kph – has just moved up to the next level with a model pod being unveiled in Spain in early October. The pod was life-sized with a design similar to TGV high-speed trains and the Concorde supersonic aircraft.
At a ceremony in Puerto de Santa Maria in Spain on 2 October, US company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) unveiled a life-sized model of the future Hyperloop pod, as reported by BFMTV. The craft, made almost entirely from a new and specially created material called vibranium, goes by the name of "Quintero One" and was assembled by Airtificial, the Spanish partner of HyperloopTT, in the south of the country. It is currently being transported to a research and development centre located at the former Francazal air-base near to Toulouse in France to undergo tests.
TGV / Concorde hybrid
The future Hyperloop pod, created in collaboration with the PriestmanGoode design agency which specialises in transport, has elements similar to both the TGV high-speed train and the Concorde aircraft. "This pod is the result of an adventure that took over a year, and which brought together top experts from the fields of design, engineering and materials development," said Dirk Ahlborn, co-founder and CEO of HyperloopTT. "In the space of just five years, we have improved and solved all the problems posed by the technology required by the Hyperloop with our new levitation system, vacuum pumps, batteries and smart composites."
"The pod will be part of one of the most efficient transport systems ever designed," he concluded. It is the fruit of 21,000 hours of qualified engineering work and 5,000 hours of assembly for the carbon fibre panels that are fitted with sensors. The life-sized model unveiled in Puerto de Santa Maria has a total length of 32 metres – 15 metres for the internal part – and weighs 5 tonnes. Its interior design meanwhile has not yet been unveiled.
Transporting passengers or freight at over 1,000 kph
"In 2019, this pod will be fully optimised and ready to host passengers," said Bibop Gresta, the other co-founder of HyperloopTT. "Insofar as we have taken significant measures to comply with governmental regulations with our certification directives in terms of security and our insurance frameworks, we are now nearer than ever to presenting the Hyperloop to the general public the world over."
A provisional test track in Toulouse (France) got its first tubes last April and in the long term, Hyperloop is looking at having its pods travel in vacuum tubes at speeds in excess of 1,000 kph, using energy from electromagnetic fields. On board, there will be both passengers and freight. The next stage, planned by 2019, is the installation of a life-sized system – raised up on pylons 5.8 metres high – over a distance of one kilometre, the Francazal site states.
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