Congested cities and time-consuming air travel are just some of the motivations behind Elon Musk’s ‘hyperloop’ vision. Now, the dream of a super-speed, futuristic transport system is one step closer to reality after a recent unveiling by hyperloop tech firm, HTT.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), one of the handful of firms competing across the world to bring the hyperloop to fruition, recently revealed its first full-size passenger capsule to the public. The to-scale capsule presented to audiences from Cadiz, Spain in late September can carry up to 40 passengers, weighs five tonnes and measures over 100 feet in length.
The capsule’s unique design includes a skin made from what’s being dubbed ‘Vibranium’, composed of carbon fibre and embedded sensors. The material is reported to be at least 8 times stronger than steel, and more than ten times stronger than other alternatives such as aluminium. The super-strength shell is necessary to reinforce and protect the magnet-supported passenger vehicles which will travel at lightening speeds through hyperloop tunnels.
It’s hoped that hyperloop technology could see passengers travel at up to 760mph between stations in as little as five to ten years, HTT Ceo Dirk Ahlborn told CNBC. In order to continue developing the technology, HTT’s R&D centre has now been moved to Toulouse, France, where assembly will be completed, and further tests will be run on the full-size track available at the facility.
This development is the latest in a years-long line of hyperloop advancements since Elon Musk first introduced the concept to the world in 2013. The Tesla CEO envisioned a transport system which would see passengers travel quickly, safely, and inexpensively between destinations. Once realised, the network could see trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco, or Brisbane and Sydney, take just 30 minutes.
HTT isn’t the only firm competing to be first to see Musk’s vision accomplished. Several other companies have made serious advancements towards bringing hyperloop transportation to maturity over the last couple of years. Virgin Hyperloop unveiled their own passenger capsule in Dubai earlier in the year. It is hoped that this nail-biting rivalry between hyperloop design firms will spur on development and bring the transportation system to the masses sooner than first expected. Although Virgin Hyperloop has already completed tests of its capsule, HTT is yet to do so. It won’t be long, however, before HTT is also running these tests and taking hyperloop development further still. Instead, until now, HTT has focused its efforts on the passenger; working on regulatory frameworks and insurance policies which will ensure the safety of users and guidelines under which the high-speed transport network will eventually run. The firm has already begun negotiations with insurance firm Munich Re. It’s uncertain whether this customer-centric approach will give HTT the advantage when it comes to the race to hyperloop’s launch to the world. Despite this, Ahlborn is steadfast in his approach.
“The passenger needs to be at the centre,” he said to CNBC.