Virgin Hyperloop could revolutionize travel (with levitating pods)

Tech Industry
Speaker 1: This is the Virgin Hyperloop, a futuristic transport system where passengers travel through airless tubes in high tech, levitating pods. Virgin wants to connect countries all across the world. With these Hyperloops offering airline it's without leaving the ground. [00:00:30] Here's a riddle for you. Your best friend just scored tickets to Celine Dionne in Las Vegas, but the show starts in an hour and you are in LA. How do you get there? Well, you just get into your travel pod, zoom off at 670 miles per hour, and you make the trip in 40 minutes. You could do all that with the Virgin Hyperloop. I'm gonna see how it works. Speaker 1: The Hyperloop is made up of individual pods that travel through a near vacuum tube [00:01:00] powered by mag genetic Levi with Maglev transport. There are no wheels on tracks instead, high powered magnets, repel each other, moving the vehicle while it floats off the track. Virgin uses a proprietary levitation system, but the tech is essentially the same, a array of electromagnets propel the pods and guide them through Hyperloop tube. But the tube is also more than just a plain old tunnel. Huge pumps remove 99.9% [00:01:30] of the air inside the Hyperloop tube, meaning there's virtually no drag on the pods as they travel that combination, the airless environment in the tube and the high powered Maglev props means the pods can reach speeds of up to 670 miles or more than a thousand kilometers an hour here in the Nevada desert, just outside Las Vegas. Virgin has built a full scale prototype Hyperloop called the dev loop at 500 meters long or a bit over [00:02:00] a quarter of a mile. Speaker 1: It's a fraction of the size of what a, a final Hyperloop would be, but it's the perfect place to test whether the technology actually works. All right, so they've actually let me inside the Hyperloop tunnel and it is pretty cool to be in here. So this entire track runs for 500 meters. And the idea is that you'd pressurize. It you'd create a little airlock here where people were bored inside a pod. And then once the whole thing was depressurized. You could zoom down [00:02:30] to your destination. I like the idea of traveling at 670 miles per hour to get where I need to go. Speaker 1: It takes about three and a half hours to pump the air out of this 500 meter dev loop, but to bring it back in takes just two minutes, thanks to emergency event valves built along the length of the tube, but the idea isn't to pump the air in and out every time the Hyperloop would have long sealed off stretches [00:03:00] kept at low pressure. These sections would be separated by airlocks where passengers could board. Once passengers have boarded their pod in the airlock, the air could be pumped out of that small section, a gate would release and the pod can start its journey in 2017. Virgin tested its first experimental vehicle inside the dev loop X P one. The goal was to make sure the system actually worked and the pod could reach high speeds in the near vacuum environment. Next came X P two, [00:03:30] a two person pod that transported its first human passengers in November, 2020, reaching speeds of 107 miles per hour. We, while X, P two only carried four passengers on two trips. The goal is to scale up. Eventually Virgin wants to create pods that can carry up to 28 passengers, all traveling at airline speeds, but without the risk of turbulence from a Speaker 2: Passenger experience standpoint, with a limitation system, there's no contact with, with the [00:04:00] track. So you're essentially just floating over the track. It's a much smoother ride. Speaker 1: The concept of the Hyperloop. Isn't new back in 2013, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk outlined his vision for the Hyperloop, our alpha Musk envisaged pods departing every two minutes, traveling up to 760 miles an hour, making the trip from LA to San Francisco in just over [00:04:30] half an hour. Virgin has made some changes from that early concept, opting for Maglev instead of Musks original plan, which had the pods moving on cushions of air parks on an air hockey table. But even with those changes, the dev loop starts to deliver on a concept that once only existed on paper, of course, the big question is why Hyperloop? Why not invest in high speed rail instead of building a whole new transport system from scratch. Virgin says the Hyperloop will be three [00:05:00] times faster and high speed rail and more efficient. Thanks to the sealed off tubes. There are no weather delays and because the technology for the system is on the pod. It's easy to upgrade the Hyperloop with new and better vehicles over time. Virgin also says the system is designed for flexible on-demand transport. The pods travel in convoys, but they're not physically connected. So passengers can start and finish their journey at different stops. And the goal not just single stretches of tube, [00:05:30] for point to point, travel Virgin wants full Hyperloop networks moving 50,000 passengers an hour hundreds of miles of Hyperloop connecting the world and changing the way we think travel Speaker 2: The way we think about where we live, where we work, the way we think about the distances will be very different. And you look at choices you have from traveling, say from Los Angeles to here to Las Vegas. And you look at, I can either either, you know, drive my car and I know it's gonna take [00:06:00] me anywhere between four to seven hours or I can fly and go through the airports and on all these things. Or I can just hop on an hyper loop and be there in 40 minutes. I mean, the choice becomes very apparent. Speaker 1: Of course, that vision is still years away. Virgin wants to begin commercial operations by 2027 and it's gaining some momentum in the us Hyperloop technology was included in the recent federal infrastructure bill [00:06:30] and the companies trying to expand internationally pitching projects in India and the United Arab Emirates. Virgin isn't just chasing government support. The real key will be private investment. All those tubes and high tech pods need money to get off the ground for now. Virgin has its 500 meter dev loop, a chance to experience a fast future, a little over a quarter of a mile at a time.

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