Insights · May 11th, 2016

Photo: Press Kit
The Hyperloop revolution begins with this small scale test by one of the Hperloop companies, now named Virgin Hyperloop, formerly Hyperloop One. The success and actually the ease of it all suggest that the concept may be quite feasible. Will locales in the U.S. allow it to happen, or will super high speed transportation of this type be mostly confined to the rest of the world, as for example is true with high speed trains today?

As reported in Gizmodo, and elsewhere, the simplicity of the electric drive is one key difference in this proposed transportation system, along with the vacuum tubes that remove friction. How does the drive work?

Unlike typical motors, this one has no moving parts. Giegel described the motors as “blades” and what you might get if you took a typical electric motor, cut it down the seam and unrolled it. When powered, these roughly 2-feet tall by 6-inch wide blades create electromagnetic energy that reacts with the pod and pushes it along.

This makes it sound similar to a linear-induction motor you might see on newer roller coasters that shoot cars out at very high speeds—which is why the test looked like one of those roller coasters. But unlike the motors used on roller coasters or high-speed rail, the near-vacuum environment in the hyperloop’s tube reduces the need for so many of these motors because there’s less drag. As Geigel explained it to me, the motors would only need to be installed on 5 to 10 percent of the track, about every 50 miles.

Hyperloop One is the company raising investor money in the traditional way, while Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is attempting a kind of crowd-sourced, volunteer start-up strategy. Both plan to have full scale test tracks built in the next couple of years. This technology could radically change transportation for people and freight between cities at distances of about 500 miles or less. (Beyond that distance, airplanes still make the most sense according to Elon Musk and others.)

Science & Tech Transportation
Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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