The Hyperloop – a new era for mobility

The Hyperloop – a new era for mobility

3 June 2019
hyperloop Mobility transportation
Read the article

It’s 2060. Environmental concerns and high petrol prices have gradually turned people away from carbon transport systems, and high tech has picked up the baton. Dreamed up half a century earlier by the ingenious Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the Hyperloop has progressively established itself as the world’s fastest and safest mode of transport.

But what is a Hyperloop? Basically, it’s a system of capsules carrying passengers or freight through a near-vacuum tube, free of air friction, at speeds of 1,200 km/h propelled by magnetic levitation. If the Hyperloop lives up to its hype, it won’t only be an evolution for rail transport but a real revolution for mobility in general.

From Jules Verne to Elon Musk: the underlying concept

A true visionary genius, it was Jules Verne who was the first to imagine “pneumatic tubes stretching across the oceans” that could transport people at 1,500 km/h. Described in his predictive short story “In the Twenty-Ninth Century: The Day of an American Journalist in the Year 2889″, could this futuristic transport system have been a source of inspiration for South-African entrepreneur Elon Musk?

Legend has it that it was the hours Musk wasted in Californian traffic jams every day that gave him the idea for the Hyperloop. First publicly mentioned in 2012, Musk describes the Hyperloop as a “cross between a Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table”. This fifth mode of transport (alongside boats, planes, cars and traditional trains) would be an ultra-fast and safer alternative to air travel and would be immune to weather conditions.

Organic development

To give his concept the best chance of success, Elon Musk went against standard industrial practice and made the Hyperloop an open-source project. A dozen companies joined the development race, but three main start-ups have now pulled away from the others: Virgin Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, both based in California, and Transpod based in Canada.

The technical challenges are huge: creating the tubes and evacuating the air in them, designing the pressurized capsules, developing the system for magnetically levitating the capsules and devising the linear induction motors to propel them. And all the while keeping to a reasonable budget so this ultra-high-speed train can continue to be developed over the long term.

In the trio of start-ups currently heading the development race, Virgin Hyperloop One seems to be in front. In May 2016, it successfully conducted the first live trial of Hyperloop technology, on a test track near Las Vegas in Nevada. The following year, its prototype travelled 450 metres and reached a speed of 310 km/h – still a long way off the world record speed of 603 km/h currently held by the “Maglev” train in Japan. Virgin Hyperloop One aims to have a working freight hyperloop system in place by 2021.

Hyperloop TT’s objectives are even more ambitious. This start-up – which has built a test site in the Toulouse region in France – has promised to link Dubai to Abu Dhabi by hyperloop by October 2020. TransPod is more prudent, setting 2030 as the date for its first commercial line.

Revolutionising mobility on a global scale

Three and a half hours to get from New York to San Francisco, just under six hours to travel to Vladivostok from Moscow (versus seven days on the Trans-Siberian which it currently takes), seven hours to cross the African continent from Algiers to Cape Town, and so on. Since the disappearance of Concorde, the Hyperloop represents the most radical mobility innovation on both a local and global scale.

In addition to offering impressive speeds, this magnetic train could be energy self-sufficient thanks to the use of cladding made of solar panels, and regenerative braking. In these times of energy transition, this is a very strong argument to win over the faint-hearted.

Will these ambitious entrepreneurs be proved right in the future? If the Hyperloop does see the light of day, this train-plane would be a way of creating closer links between both neighbouring and distant countries and of reminding us that we all live on the same planet.

 

Share :

THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF THE FILE :
Mobility

Something to say ?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Assystem

in collaboration with Silex Id

Our vacancies
##INCREDIBLENGINEERS

Learn more

Related articles

Being an engineer in Tours: "a historic setting for large-scale projects"

Large-scale projects in the nuclear and defense sectors are multiplying in Tours thanks to the many partners present in the region. A perfect opportunity to discover the city known as “Little Pa...

Being an engineer in Cherbourg: "a real feeling of freedom".

The first is working on a major nuclear project, the second on naval defence project engineering. Alexis Turcan and Jérôme Lecolazet have both chosen the Cotentin region to live and work. Seduced by t...

10 good reasons to go and work in the Cotentin region

Just a few hours from Paris, the Cotentin region is renowned for its idyllic living environment, as well as the dynamism of its industries, particularly in the nuclear and defence sectors. Here are 10...

Before moving abroad, you have to know your host environment well

Since May 2019 Assystem has been supporting Uzbekistan in its energy transition thanks to the implementation of the country’s new energy mix (new production infrastructures, transport networks a...

"Working on the construction site of a nuclear power plant and living a five-minute walk from the sea"

As an expatriate in Turkey, Alexia Sergeant is involved in the ambitious nuclear programme of Akkuyu. Beyond the professional challenge, this young engineer shares a real love for a country rich in cu...

"I'm in the right place"

Italian by birth, Paolo Minelli has joined the Assystem team in France last February. His role: managing the data-scientist team and contributing to improve the performance of the group’s projec...

"I've been offered the opportunity to move on to several positions"

Between France and the UK, Nicholas Morris is currently experiencing the daily challenge of developing Assystem’s business around the British EPR project, Hinkley Point C. “FascinatingR...

Will we still need engineers in the future?

The question is not as strange as it might seem. Given the phenomenal growth of digital technology, robotics and artificial intelligence, where does this leave the engineers of tomorrow? How will they...

No, I'm not a superhero

For ordinary people, when we talk about engineers, is the image of Steve Job, inventor of the first Macintosh and founder of a now trillionaire company, or Elon Musk, imagining alone the car new gener...

So what exactly is an engineer?

Engineer /ɛndʒɪˈnɪə/, derived from the Middle English “engineour” and from the Old French “engigneor” – a designer and constructor of fortifications and weapons. > A person ...

Commute, work, sleep ... Inside an engineer's head during a banal day

Builders of bridges or power plants, application developers, designers, project managers … But what exactly do all these engineers do? Between meetings, exchanges with the client, team managemen...

When I grow up, I want to be an engineer!

Engineering schools are still as popular as ever. Why? Do we really know what an engineer is? Their backgrounds? Their daily lives? To answer this, we met up with three of them to find out more about ...

NASA’s taking nuclear energy into space

The conquest of space is more than ever at the centre of public attention, with projects like SpaceX and The Stealth Space Company, but who better than NASA to fulfil this dream that has existed for t...

Big Data Automation

It’s no secret that data is the lifeblood of more and more companies. While it brings many benefits for those who use it wisely, it creates just as many constraints for those who don’t. Ma...

Saudi, land of oil… and engineers

In Saudi, being an engineer is more than any profession. With “Saudi Vision 2030” plan to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil and diversify its economy, Saudi engineers are becoming a rare c...

Being a woman engineer in the land of the Corcovado mountain

Happiness seems to be the watchword in the home of samba and the caipirinha. But the cool and carefree image that Brazilians present to the world is juxtaposed against a very different reality. The re...