With speeds 2-3 times faster than high-speed rail, pod-based transport system Virgin Hyperloop One is one step closer to welcoming its first passengers.
Virgin has unveiled its Vision 2030 Hyperloop Pod at its Virgin Galactic test site in the Mojave desert in California, as part of a partnership with Saudi Arabia geared towards the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic plan.
The Hyperloop system uses magnetic levitation to lift pods above the track and gradually accelerate them using electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hopes that a Hyperloop system will stimulate economic growth and diversification of Saudi industries, nurture manufacturing and innovation sectors, and create jobs.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said: “Hyperloop is the catalyst to enable all fourth generation technologies to flourish in the Kingdom while creating a vibrant society and thriving economy through visionary cities and high-tech clusters.”
Josh Giegel, co-founder and chief technology officer of Virgin Hyperloop One, added:“Our continued support from His Royal Highness and collaboration with Vision 2030 will allow the Virgin Hyperloop One system to connect with cities across the Kingdom, turning commute times from hours into minutes.”
With the Hyperloop system, traveling from Riyadh to Jeddah would take 76 minutes, currently a journey time of over 10 hours; traveling from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi would take 48 minutes, currently a journey time of over 8.5 hours.
A universal roll out of Hyperloop One would mean a journey from Edinburgh to London would take a mere 41 minutes – around three hours faster than current train travel. A test track for Europe is planned for 2021.
This Route Estimator calculates how long a Hyperloop journey between any two destinations should take in comparison with other forms of transport.
The original Hyperloop concept was created by Elon Musk in 2013, but the technology has been open-sourced and others have been encouraged to further develop the ideas.
Hyperloop One was founded in June 2014 and rebranded as Virgin Hyperloop One last year, following investment from Virgin Group in October. Richard Branson was named chairman of the company shortly after. In December, Virgin Hyperloop One completed its third phase of testing, achieving test speeds of 387 kilometers per hour. The company aims to have three production systems in service in three years’ time.
Virgin Hyperloop One currently has more than 300 employees and has received $295m in funding. Investors include DP World, Caspian Venture Capital, Sherpa Capital, 137 Ventures, SNCF, Fast Digital, and OurCrowd.com.