Hyperloop technology hurtles closer to reality at CES 2018 with Virgin Hyperloop One demonstrating the first-ever hyperloop trip planning app for passengers and showcasing its first-generation hyperloop pod at the big show in Las Vegas.
Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation concept first made popular by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk that involves magnetically levitating pods carrying passengers or cargo from one end of a very long tube to another. Hyperloop tubes are very low-pressure, near-vacuum environments with very little air resistance, so the pods should travel at extremely high speeds -- up to around 760 mph, according to proposed concepts.
Hyperloop tech is being worked on by many companies, but Virgin Hyperloop One owns claim to being the only company that has a full-scale working prototype. So it's sort of safe to say that it's the closest to reaching the market.
Virgin is so confident that it has already unveiled and is demonstrating the app customers will use to plan and pay for their hyperloop trips. Built in partnership with mapping and navigation company Here Technologies, the app will allow customers to schedule hyperloop trips from city to city and door to door.
For example, if I wanted to take a hypothetical hyperloop from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, the app could help me book ride-sharing to the Vegas hyperloop station, schedule and pay for my 30-minute, 240-mph pod into LA, and then give directions to my final destination. The app should build hyperloop trips around walking, driving, ride-sharing or public transportation.
Virgin Hyperloop One will make the app available to the public in 2018. Of course, it won't be of much use until Virgin starts laying hyperloop tubes between cities, but the aggressive timeline may gives some indication of how close Virgin thinks the tech is to reality.
Virgin will also be publicly showcasing its first-generation Virgin Hyperloop One XP-1 pod to the public for the first time at the show. This is the very pod used in recent full-scale testing, reaching the 240-mile-per-hour mark in Virgin's test loop outside of Las Vegas.
We'll be getting a closer look at the pod and an in-person demonstration of the Virgin Hyperloop One system at CES 2018 later this week. Stay tuned for more details.