Hyperloop travel has been a pipe dream (pun intended) since Elon Musk proposed the travel alternative in a white paper in 2013. Imagine vacuum tubes in a bank, only with people traveling hundreds of miles away on time. Now in the biggest step forward for the idea, Virgin Hyperloop has just completed a test launch with real human passengers in the pod.
Naturally, testing Virgin Hyperloop was a modest first step. While the proposed idea is to transport humans from point A to point B at over 700 miles per hour, this attempt did not reach that speed.
Part of that is because Virgin Hyperloop’s test track is currently only 500 meters, which is not long enough to reach those speeds safely and then slow down. Instead, the crewed capsule traveled “barely” 107 miles per hour.
It’s still a huge step forward for the concept, however, which has mostly stalled since Elon Musk unveiled the idea seven years ago. The Virgin Hyperloop pod used mirrored what the company intends to use for its business trips in almost every way. One of the few changes made was the addition of a five-point harness system, similar to those used by race cars.
The two passengers, company co-founder Josh Giegel and Passenger Experience manager Sara Luchian, went through extensive training and took a tube ride to see various exit points before the test. While today’s pod only holds two passengers, the company promises future iterations for up to 28 people.
But there are still many questions that need to be answered, such as the feasibility of building the necessary broad tracks and the security concerns. Moving people at such incredible speeds comes with risks that will need to be addressed before hyperloop becomes a reality for the masses.