Originally suggested as a concept in 2012 by Elon Musk, Hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and freight transportation, using maglift technology in a sealed tube or system of tubes with low air pressure through which a pod may travel substantially free of air resistance or friction.
The Hyperloop Alpha concept was first published in August 2013, proposing and examining a route running from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly following the Interstate 5 corridor. The Hyperloop Genesis paper conceived of a hyperloop system that would propel passengers along the 350-mile (560 km) route at a speed of 760 mph (1,200 km/h), allowing for a travel time of 35 minutes, which is considerably faster than current rail or air travel times.
Since that day the concept of the Hyperloop has been opened up for development by whichever company perfects the technology first. One company seriously pursuing the tech is Virgin; who just recently reached a new milestone – passenger trials.
On Sunday, November 8, 2020, the first passengers traveled safely on a hyperloop – making transportation history. In the trial, which took place in Nevada, two passengers – both company staff – travelled the length of a 500m test track in 15 seconds, reaching 107mph (172km/h).
Virgin has expectations that on a longer track, and in real world practice, they could see speeds in excess of 1,000 km/h. Imagine going from Toronto to Montreal in a half an hour. Ordinarily a 5 hour trip by car or train, over an hour by plane, but with Hyperloop it could theoretically be made in 30 minutes.
This kind of transportation would rely almost exclusively on electricity to run, which means no unnecessary greenhouse gases released, and could revolutionize commuting between regions, potentially rendering domestic flight obsolete.
Is it the transportation of the future? That remains to be seen, but with each new step forward it becomes more of a possibility.