The Virgin Hyperloop One pod looks just as cool as it sounds.
The slick, pill-shaped capsule, about the size of a school bus, will hold almost 30 people and travel almost 700 miles an hour through a tube. On Thursday, it was displayed on MU’s Francis Quadrangle.
Hyperloop technology is a proposed energy-efficient transportation system that uses magnetic levitation and vacuum technology to move through a tube from one destination to another.
The privately owned and funded company, Virgin Hyperloop One asserts that the world has not seen a new form of transportation in 100 years. The hyperloop will be emission-free, energy-efficient, extremely fast, quiet and direct, according to the company’s website.
The company has been testing the new mode of transportation for the last four years.
Sarah Lawson, the marketing project manager, has been with the company for three years. She says that it has “been running over 400 tests with this vehicle. We are the only hyperloop company that has run this many tests.”
Ryan Kelly, head of global marketing and communications, said the vacuum technology is key.
“In the tube, we suck out the majority of the atmospheric pressure. This does two things: It creates less aerodynamic drag, which allows us to go 670 mph, and also allows us to be really energy-efficient,” Kelly said.
“We’re about 10 times more energy-efficient than a plane,” he said. “Per passenger, we are the most energy-efficient transportation system in the world.”
Kelly said the pods will run like an interstate highway system, with individual pods traveling within the tubes. They will have the capability to communicate with each other digitally, although they are not mechanically connected like in a train.
The separate pods that will be utilized in hyperloop transportation set it apart from high-speed rail and magnetic levitation trains around the world.
These pods, holding about 28 people, can be sent off into the tube at different times. Passengers in each individual pod will all be headed to the same location, which cancels out the need for stops that decrease efficiency and make travel times longer.
Virgin Hyperloop has a goal to connect cities in America, like metro stops, Kelly said.
In theory, a person could live in St. Louis and work in Kansas City with this new form of transportation.
A constant stream of students dropped by to see the pod.
“It’s not like a new train that already exists; it’s completely new and different and just as revolutionary as the invention of the airplane,” senior Eva Beaudoin said.
The company has a target goal of getting safety certification completed by the year 2024. It hopes to have passengers on the pods by 2029.
Ticket prices are expected to be within $30-$40, mirroring the relative cost of gas to make the same trip.
“In historical context,” Kelly said, “to plan to commercialize a new method of transportation like this one behind me is aggressive.”
The pod will also be on display Friday.
Supervising editor is Mark Horvit.