Hyperloop TT - The Future of Transport
Transport must be decarbonized in order to achieve our climate objectives. A great way to reduce emissions for medium-length trips is by using electric trains, but even the fastest of them are still slow compared to planes.
This is where the incredibly fast Hyperloop was supposed to come in, and recent development may have brought it one step closer to becoming a reality. Hyperloop Transport Technologies (TT), a key supporter of the project, has now acquired the funding needed to proceed with their work.
HyperloopTT was established in 2013 using a crowdsourcing approach, involving 800 contributors and 50 collaborators. Despite the widely credited origins of the idea being attributed to Elon Musk, he has no direct involvement with HyperloopTT. The concept emanating from him presented a new way to revolutionize mass transit but it was left up to those willing to embrace it.
For years, Hyperloop has been under development and in 2016 I had the pleasure of attending a presentation at SXSW in Austin from HyperloopTT. The always entertaining Bibop Gresta, one of the initial founders, spoke on "Crowdsourcing the Hyperloop". The new transportation system was designed to reach a speed of 1,200km/h (750mph). All these years later it’s clear that HyperloopTT still envisions reaching this tremendous speed.
At SXSW, HyperloopTT addressed the promise to connect Bratislava and Vienna, however due to logistics of securing an appropriate route, that goal was not realized. Current CEO Andres de Leon revealed further to me in a recent interview information regarding other projects around the world with varying lengths of construction. An endeavor from Venice to Padona, spanning 10km is currently costing approximately 800 million Euros ($827 million).
Additionally, a commercial prototype is being built in Colorado; these designs may reach speeds up to 600km/h with hopes of eventually reaching 800-900km/h. Lastly, their test track in Toulouse is 320 meters long and currently stands as the only full-scale Hyperloop track in existence.
Hyperloop transportation relies on a semi-vacuum to minimize friction and provide the motive force through the tracks instead of the capsules. This is accomplished by an Inductrack system, eliminating the need for the capsules to use their own energy or take a large amount along with them. For movement in stations where this technology doesn't apply, however, they will still be able to travel freely. In comparison to conventional trains, HyperloopTT envisages individual capsules or containers as opposed to long vehicles with several carriages; this has the advantage of being more flexible in its ability to reduce transportation costs at times of low volume.
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