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Jul 29, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Hyperloop: tests with passengers on prototype of ultra-fast train slated for 2020

One of the users of Hyperloop technology announced on Wednesday 26 June that they intend to carry out tests on an ultra-fast train as early as 2020. The train will run in a vacuum tube in real-life conditions. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has even mentioned the possibility of tests with passengers at its site in Toulouse, where life-size facilities are already available. Management at the US company are confident, even though the technology is already being used elsewhere and is at the focus of research being carried out by other laboratories and companies.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) announced on Wednesday 26 June their intention to carry out tests on an ultra-fast train with passengers as early as 2020. The US company has life-size test facilities using Hyperloop technology in Toulouse, in the south of France. Tests in real-life conditions could be carried out over 320 metres of rails on board a 32-metre long capsule, according to French news service FranceInfo.

Certification to come in the future?

The project looks to be heading to the next level, with the Toulouse site – currently the only one of its kind in the world – recently receiving a visit from members of the US Department of Transport (USDOT). At the same time, the California-headquartered company demonstrated to USDOT officials in Washington the initial elements which could eventually lead to the Hyperloop getting the green light from national authorities. The same procedure was carried out last May involving the European Commission.

"We are closer than ever to the moment when we will be able to transport people in the Hyperloop for the first time," said the CEO and co-founder of HTT, Bibop Gresta. "Sharing our knowledge with our colleagues from government in the USA and in Europe will help us make progress towards our objective, which is to create the safest and most efficient means of transport that the world has ever seen."

Aiming for the sound barrier

The Hyperloop is a field of research that came back into fashion in 2013 thanks to Elon Musk, French website Sciences et Avenir reports. The HTT company does not have a monopoly over this futuristic technology, with a number of firms and laboratories working on concrete roll-outs of the principle, which involves a tube in which a capsule can travel at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h.

Travel at this speed could see passengers close to breaking the sound barrier thanks to the type of transport that is involved, with the module never touching the walls of the tunnel. Friction would therefore not be generated, maximising the aerodynamics. To improve performance, the tube houses a low-pressure environment which requires the capsule carrying the travellers to be pressurised, FranceInfo adds.

In the face of competition from other groups using Hyperloop technology, HTT is confident that its project is ahead of the pack. "Not only are we building the only system in the world which is genuinely life-sized, insured and certified in terms of security," said Dirk Alhborn, co-founder and director of HTT, "but we are also making progress in our efforts to drive the Hyperloop by sharing our technology-based experience and our vision of the regulatory framework."

Allianz Partners

Cover photo credits: Kevin Krejci/Flickr

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