Virgin Hyperloop has produced a video demonstrating its ideas for passenger pods to travel at speeds of over 1,000 km/h (600 mph) via tubes containing a near-vacuum using magnetic levitation.
Instead of joining to create a train, the pods will drive in convoy, each able to depart and rejoin a static track independently, much to vehicles on a highway.
Virgin Hyperloop conducted its first crewed test-track ride last year, achieving speeds of 170 kilometers per hour. However, one reviewer claims that the video is “hype.”
Writer and railway engineer Gareth Dennis tweeted saying, “a glossy video that says, ‘Everything works and is great,’ with nothing more than some CGI [computer-generated imagery] and a giant winky face”.
“Tens of thousands of passengers per hour per direction”, which “would require a thousand or more pods traveling every hour – or one every three seconds”, he told BBC.
Virgin Hyperloop was given credit for this by the BBC. “This is a great question and is at the crux of what makes a hyperloop system unique from other modes,” Hyperloop replied. “Unlike trains that are physically tied together to move large groups of people, our pods are digitally connected together closer to trucking convoys on a road.
“Convoying enables our system to provide the on-demand convenience and direct-to-destination service of cars while realizing the efficiencies and higher throughput of trains.”
The battery-powered pods will have “zero direct emissions,” according to Virgin Hyperloop.
Hyperloop TT, another company attempting to commercialize the hyperloop idea, revealed its proposal for a HyperPort in July, which would use the technology to transfer freight containers quickly.
The hyperloop concept was also included in the recently enacted US Infrastructure bill, which opens up the potential of federal funding.
However, there are still concerns about its feasibility and how it can fund the construction of a vast network of evacuated tube lines at a cost that is competitive with rail and aviation prices.
The approach, according to Virgin Hyperloop, is to use “technological developments” to keep prices low and profits high while also using public funds. “We see enormous potential to attract investment from the private sector, leveraging public investments”, it said.