Two passengers enter first trial of Virgin Hyperloop

Pete Flint

Posts: 39   +7
Forward-looking: Virgin Hyperloop just sent two passengers down a 500m test track yesterday, reaching speeds of up to 107mph. These are still the early stages of this technology, and only preliminary tests have been performed, but the potential benefits seem exciting.

The super-fast transport system that transforms humans into 20th-century bank memos set up a 500m track in the Nevada desert yesterday to test its new technology.

The Virgin Hyperloop (VH) is a “futuristic” transport system that sends magnetically levitated pods along vacuum-tubes at extreme speeds. The system was proposed by Elon Musk back in 2013 and picked up by a Virgin Group subsidiary the following year for development.

The pod traveled the 500m test-track in 15 seconds at a top speed of 107mph. Two Virgin staff members, Sara Luchian and Josh Giegel, were inside the pod to give their review of the trial-run.

VH suggests its system can transport passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a measly 43 minutes, which would require peak speeds of 670mph. This would be nearly double the current world record set by a mag-lev train speed test set in Japan in 2015.

In theory, according to Mr. Musk, tickets for this East Coast journey would cost as little as $20 USD and could be launched as often as 30 seconds apart. The track itself would cost roughly $6bn to build.

For reference, the hotly contested High Speed 2 rail set to be built in the UK and connect London to the North will cost just short of £106bn ($140bn USD). This system, built with modern technologies, should top out at 250mph.

The former Virgin Hyperloop One boss, Rob Lloyd, suggested the Hyperloop solution could be used anywhere around the globe. He quoted a theoretical, 4-minute travel time between Heathrow and Gatwick airports, for example.

While there would be substantial infrastructure to build, Sara Luchian, the Director of Customer Experience (and one of yesterday's two test riders) put forward, "We can keep building today's or yesterday's transport systems and keep encountering the same problems they bring or we can really look to build something that solves those problems."

VH’s website also quotes environmental benefits of the new tech. The tubes would be built either underground or suspended on concrete stilts, minimizing interference with wildlife on the surface. The system is also slated to be run completely by solar panels lining the roof, and the nature of its design means it will be much quieter than modern rails.

This all sounds optimistic, though much of this information is coming from Virgin Hyperloop. We’ll see if these quoted top-speeds, cost efficiency, and environmental benefits truly emerge in the near future.

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VitalyT

Posts: 5,555   +5,232
I couldn't find it in the article - did they ever get out?

Last time I picked a spider out of vacuum bag, it wasn't doing well.
 
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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,894   +5,440
This would be great...on the moon... or Mars...but I see no practical use for this in America.

Rather than just make the railways better - or even build high speed Maglev rail between the corners of the country, they'd rather shoot people back and forth like cash tubes at the bank?

I lived in Shanghai when they built the Shanghai Transrapid and got to ride it. It was absolutely amazing - not to mention practical.

Meanwhile, all we got here in NYC was the "airtrain" to shuttle wealthy people from JFK to Jamaica, LIRR without risking their lives in the poor areas of south Ozone Park.

 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,894   +5,440
I want to see your average "body positive" (read: Obese) America fit in those seats and that strap.

I sure hope Elon engineered a strap extension like they have on airlines.
 

brucek

Posts: 803   +1,104
TechSpot Elite
4 people in a tube?

How is this more economical than a jet airplane?
I think it's four people in a relatively simple pod, and a very large number of those pods in one tube.

Before I would get in a long tube from say SF to LA, I'd want to know a lot more about how I exit to free air in event of malfunction, and where my oxygen is coming from in the meantime.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
I see no practical use for this in America. Rather than just make the railways better - or even build high speed Maglev rail between the corners of the country, they'd rather shoot people back and forth like cash tubes at the bank?
Perhaps you don't understand the concept here. It is a "better railway" -- the purpose of the tube is to enable higher speeds at higher efficiencies, due to the reduced drag. The Shanghai maglev you reference doesn't even hit 300mph. The hyperloop concept is aiming for a maximum of 760mph ... faster than normal jet travel and with much lower energy costs, and utterly impossible without that evacuated tube.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,775   +5,523
The old Pennsylvania railroad's "GG-1" electric locomotive, had a published top speed of...( wait for it)............

128 mph

In testing, the first GG-1—#4800—hit a top speed of 128 mph, but in regular service they were kept to speeds of 100 mph and lower. Each unit measured roughly 79.5 feet long, 10.5 feet wide and 15 feet high. Amtrak GG-1 No. 906 in a patriotic Amtrak livery.

800px-PRR_GG1_4890_at_NRM%2C_Green_Bay%2C_20040426.jpg


Alas, the last one was retired in 1983.


BTW, they pulled trains carrying hundreds of passengers.
The last one rolled off the assembly line in 1945
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,775   +5,523
The hyperloop concept is aiming for a maximum of 760mph ... faster than normal jet travel and with much lower energy costs, and utterly impossible without that evacuated tube.
Just for the sake of this discussion, are we including the massive amounts of energy it would take to create and maintain a vacuum in say, a LA to NYC tube?

Or the massive right of way costs for such a journey?

Do we go around, over, or through the Rocky Mountains?
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
Just for the sake of this discussion, are we including the massive amounts of energy it would take to create and maintain a vacuum in say, a LA to NYC tube?
Assuming no leakage, it takes zero energy to maintain a vacuum. There will be setup costs and some minor losses, obviously, but nothing near to what it takes to push vehicles through a 700mph headwind. Remember that commercial airliners fly at 30,000 ft (where the air is also too scarce to breathe) for just the same reason.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,775   +5,523
Here's a map of US air routes

usairways_routemap.gif


Are you ready to go out and dig a couple of tunnels to replace them?

Hint, better take a couple of extra shovels.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
Here's a map of US air routes ... Are you ready to go out and dig a couple of tunnels to replace them?
False dilemma. Hyperloops are presently only being proposed for a few of the highest-traffic routes. The issue is the feasibility of each individual route, not a worldwide network.

In any case, I'm sure if in 1905 that I would have told you that, in just a few short decades, the nation would be covered with two million miles of paved roads for horseless carriages, you'd have scoffed at that also.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,775   +5,523
False dilemma. Hyperloops are presently only being proposed for a few of the highest-traffic routes. The issue is the feasibility of each individual route, not a worldwide network.
Well then, there won't be "the massive savings over air travel", that you claim will happen either..

What's going to happen, is a massive investment for a few routes, at a price that would likely keep an entire airline in JP-1 for a decade.

At this point, the money invested, is on a par with "Star Citizen", in it's utility.

But true, I am old fashioned. I still lament the slaughter of 200,000 Shire horses, because of the tractor. along with the slaughter of 20,000 Inuit dogs by the Canadian government. They built housing for the Inuit people, and killed the dogs, because they wanted then to stay in one place
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 5,919   +4,173
Assuming no leakage, it takes zero energy to maintain a vacuum. There will be setup costs and some minor losses, obviously, but nothing near to what it takes to push vehicles through a 700mph headwind. Remember that commercial airliners fly at 30,000 ft (where the air is also too scarce to breathe) for just the same reason.
No leakage with an assembly of this size will be a difficult goal to attain. Not only will the size play a role, the vibration from the cars will also be difficult to damp, and that vibration will fatigue seals, especially if they are hard seals. It won't be a trivial exercise. Holes not visible to the human eye are enough to spoil vacuums in the 10^-3 Torr to 10^-6 Torr range even in small laboratory systems.
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 16,775   +5,523
No leakage with an assembly of this size will be a difficult to attain. Not only will the size play a role, the vibration from the cars will also be difficult to damp, and that vibration will fatigue seals, especially if they are hard seals. It won't be a trivial exercise. Holes not visible to the human eye are enough to spoil vacuums in the 10^-3 Torr to 10^-6 Torr range even in small laboratory systems.
Yeah, seals are a *****:


Anyway, now that I've gotten that out of my system.

Any right of way for a ground penetrating installation would be massively expensive, hotly contested, and litigated damned near to the death.

I'm not certain, (perhaps it's magical thinking), but I thought Musk sold Virgin this lemon.. If that's the case, it would mean Musk is even too smart to flog this* dead horse.

If the result of this human passenger run was a top speed of 107 MPH, I'd be too embarrassed to publish it, especially in a vehicle we're claiming will go 700 MPH. (And they didn't even bury the damned thing).

Given the scale of the prototype, versus what they're trying to claim it will become, the scale is on the par of an HO train set, compared to a real railroad.

But yeah, I am old and nostalgic. I remember the PRR's K-4 Steamers chugging down New Jersey Ave. in Wildwood Crest when I was a kid. I remember the streamlined monsters that were the PRR's GG-1 electric locomotives. They would do 128 MPH, and the last one of those came off the line in 1945. And yeah, they were, "Born in the USA".
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,919   +4,173
Yeah, seals are a *****:


Anyway, now that I've gotten that out of my system.

Any right of way for a ground penetrating installation would be massively expensive, hotly contested, and litigated damned near to the death.

I'm not certain, (perhaps it's magical thinking), but I thought Musk sold Virgin this lemon.. If that's the case, it would mean Musk is even too smart to flog this* dead horse.

If the result of this human passenger run was a top speed of 107 MPH, I'd be too embarrassed to publish it, especially in a vehicle we're claiming will go 700 MPH. (And they didn't even bury the damned thing).

Given the scale of the prototype, versus what they're trying to claim it will become, the scale is on the par of an HO train set, compared to a real railroad.

But yeah, I am old and nostalgic. I remember the PRR's K-4 Steamers chugging down New Jersey Ave. in Wildwood Crest when I was a kid. I remember the streamlined monsters that were the PRR's GG-1 electric locomotives. They would do 128 MPH, and the last one of those came off the line in 1945. And yeah, they were, "Born in the USA".
I am sure our godly buddy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endymion_(mythology ;) will give me crap about the fact that the cars are maglevs, but there has to be a reaction force on them, too. From personal experience, I do not see maintaining the vacuum on these tubes as being a trivial matter. There will be leaks.

Yes, this was inspired by Musk. My bet is that Musk got out of it because it is not a patentable idea. The Sci-Fi TV Series Babylon 5 portrayed this concept as a travel mechanism for Mars. Therefore, it is not patentable. I would not be surprised if that is where Musk got the idea. :laughing:
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,919   +4,173
Given the scale of the prototype, versus what they're trying to claim it will become, the scale is on the par of an HO train set, compared to a real railroad.
I have to agree with you. The whole announcement seems rather hilarious. "Two passengers shot 100 yards in a Hyperloop train." :rolleyes: