Beyond the hype: Hyperloop’s promise grows louder

Megan Lampinen visits HyperloopTT’s Toulouse testing ground for a first-hand look at this potentially revolutionary transport tech

Hyperloop technology could revolutionise the way people and goods are moved, addressing many of the pain points associated with travel today and potentially reversing urbanisation trends. This vacuum tube-based concept uses magnetic levitation to lift and guide capsules from one place to another, with linear electric motors for acceleration and braking. The tubes are held up by a network of pylons, spaced out at regular intervals. The capsules can convey people or goods at nearly the speed of sound.

This is arguably the only mode of transportation that is completely insulated from outside forces, removing the principal form of resistance faced by all transport modes—air. “Put your hand outside the window of a car and even at a low speed you can feel that air resistance,” says Alexandre Zisa, Vice President of Programmes at Hyperloop Transportation Tech (HyperloopTT). “This is what we are removing, thanks to the tube.”

HyperloopTT is just one of several companies currently pursuing the technology. Elon Musk’s Boring Company and Virgin are also pouring money into their own Hyperloop visions, though everyone remains in relatively early stages of development. Automotive World recently explored HyperloopTT’s test site and R&D Centre in Toulouse, France, where full-scale tests are being run.

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