The (public) transportation race
Ever since Elon Musk’s 2013 open source reveal of the SpaceX Hyperloop design concept, it’s been a race against time to see who’ll come up with the first viable Hyperloop system.
And yesterday, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced the construction of its first full-sized passenger capsule.
If you’re unfamiliar with Hyperloop, the so-called ‘fifth mode of transportation,’ you might be picturing a claustrophobic pod you have to climb into and lay flat in.
In reality, though, this “capsule” will be about 100 feet long, nine feet in diameter, and it will seat between 28 and 40 passengers, depending on the desired layout.
It will also zip around at speeds up to 760 miles per hour.
How is that possible?
Basically, it operates within a pneumatic tube.
A Hyperloop system is akin to a grounded airplane.
Both are designed to move through exceptionally low-pressure environments, and both take advantage of lower friction to reach super high speeds.
The race-winning Hyperloop system should ideally be super fast, super quiet, and super energy-efficient.
It may also be autonomous.
And HTT hasn’t forgotten about safety – on the contrary, the company has prioritized a “passenger first approach to guarantee that safety,” says CEO Dirk Ahlborn, as evidenced by their construction of the passenger pod so early on.
But what the world really cares about is where they’ll be able to see this pod in action. Eventually, HTT and all other Hyperloopers want to see national and international networks of Hyperloop lines connecting all the big cities, just like airlines do today.
But first we need a test run.
The first route should cover an area where it makes sense to shuttle people back and forth really fast and really frequently.
HTT plans to build a five-mile test track between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and they’ve signed a deal with Slovakia to develop a Hyperloop line between Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest.
The company is also working on a line between the two biggest cities in Slovakia, Bratislava and Kosice.
This 250 mile trip would take about four and a half hours in a car, but a Hyperloop pod could get you there in an estimated 25 minutes.
Connecting the world
As the world gets smaller, we may have to rethink what globalization means.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The ideas of “national” and “international” may begin to get fuzzier as traveling gets easier” quote=”The ideas of “national” and “international” may begin to get fuzzier.”]
Especially as we travel across countries like they’re neighborhoods, do business physically in multiple nations each day, and think more and more of the world, not a small part of it, as our home base.