Complex Made Simple

Through the loop: Virgin Hyperloop completes its first-ever human test

Virgin Hyperloop (VH), the company intent on forever changing the world of mass transportation, has announced a new breakthrough: it has succeeded in transporting humans for the first time.

Hyperloop technology is an entirely new mode of transportation, one that uses electric propulsion and electromagnetic levitation, not unlike a bullet train, under near-vacuum conditions This makes it possible for pods carrying passengers to travel at unprecedented speeds unhindered by air resistance and other physical factors Virgin Hyperloop says that this new form of transportation "is faster, safer, cheaper, and more sustainable than existing modes"

Virgin Hyperloop (VH), the company intent on forever changing the world of mass transportation, has announced a new breakthrough: it has succeeded in transporting humans for the first time

Hyperloop technology is an entirely new mode of transportation, one that uses electric propulsion and electromagnetic levitation, not unlike a bullet train, under near-vacuum conditions, making it possible for pods carrying passengers to travel at unprecedented speeds unhindered by air resistance and other physical factors. 

Virgin Hyperloop says that this new form of transportation “is faster, safer, cheaper, and more sustainable than existing modes.” However, the fact that the company will be transporting human in a near-vacuum environment has often raised some red flags, with critics wary of how truly safe such a moonshot technology is. 

Now, VH can rest somewhat easy after having succeeded at the first step, which involves successfully and safely transporting humans using this technology that to many still remains a pseudoscience. 

“I can’t tell you how often I get asked ‘is hyperloop safe?,’” said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop, on the day of the trial, November 8th. “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.” 

The volunteers for the test were upper level management: none other than Josh Giegel, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, and Sara Luchian, Director of Passenger Experience, in a strong show of confidence.

The trial took place at Virgin Hyperloop’s 500 meter DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, Nevada where the company has previously run over 400 un-occupied tests. The vehicle used in the test was the newly-unveiled XP-2, which was custom-built with occupant safety and comfort in mind. While VH’s mass production vehicle will be eventually be larger and seat up to 28 passengers, this 2-seater XP-2 vehicle was built to demonstrate that passengers can in fact safely travel in a hyperloop vehicle. 

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Image: Virgin Hyperloop

According to The Verge, “the pod didn’t reach the hyperloop’s theoretical maximum speed of 760 mph. Virgin Hyperloop projects that with enough track it can eventually get up to 670 mph (1223 kph) — but the company’s record to date is 240 mph (386 kph), which it hit in 2017.”

As the news site notes, Virgin Hyperloop was originally founded as Hyperloop Technologies, a brainchild of Elon Musk, before changing its name to Hyperloop One in 2016 and then again to Virgin Hyperloop One after being acquired by Richard Branson’s company, Virgin. The company came out of the gate strong with tens of millions of dollars of funding and a bold vision of hyperloop systems all around the globe. 

Among the company’s largest investors is Dubai port operator DP World, which has great plans for the technology in the Emirate, seeking to transform both the logistics and transportation sectors. 

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