Hyperloop has created a lot of buzz in the past couple of years. From transportation to communication, Hyperloop is believed to revolutionize the world in near future.

We all already know the existing ways of transportations around us. Water, Air, Land, and outer space have been becoming commutable comfortably along with the development in technology.

Well, guess what, the founder of highly successful company SpaceX Mr. Elon Musk proposes a new way of transportation. This topic has really been a matter of discussion among the scientist communities in all the countries across the globe.

Some embrace this concept of lightning-fast conveyance with open hearts while others deny foreseeing it’s downsides in the long run.


So, What is a Hyperloop?

Hyperloop one


A hyperloop is a proposed mode of transportation that can be used for passengers as well as  freight transportation. It is a sealed tube or a system of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance. Talking about resistance, there will be no friction causing objects and obstacles crossing your way.

Those pods are pressurized and they ride on air bearings driven by linear induction motors and   axial compressors inside Low-pressure tubes. It is assumed that the travel time will be very low as compared to the prevalent options we have. This idea is highly efficient and it is quite able to surpass aircraft as the fastest mode of transportation. For further details, we go through the sections given below

  • History
  • Design and Working
  • Hyperloop pod design competition
  • Drawbacks


History Of Hyperloop

  • The term hyperloop was initially referred to a High-speed rail transportation designed by a joint team of SpaceX and Tesla named as vactrain. Vactrain was a magnetic levitation line that uses partly evacuated tubes or tunnels.


  • It was anticipated that after the elimination of air resistance these vactrains could run at a speed of 6400-8000 km/hr. They could also outrun aircraft in terms of speed and achieve the tag of fastest means of transportation.


  • Vactrains’ speed was recorded as 5-6 times more as the speed of sound on earth’s atmosphere at sea levels. The concept illustrated that they might use gravity to assist their acceleration.


  • However, without proper advancements in the tunneling sector, they would have just been prohibitively expensive.

                  Swiss metro network as proposed in 2005 A.D  


Design & Working Of Hyperloop


  • According to Elon Musk, the man behind this concept, the capsules or pods are to be sent through a steel tube maintained at a partial vacuum. The reason the tubes are maintained at partial vacuum is to reduce air resistance.


  • He also states that these capsules will float in 0.5-1.3 mm of the layer of air. These capsules are provided with air caster skis. Air casters being pneumatic lifting device, are used to move heavy loads on flat non-porous surfaces.


  • Hyperloop One uses passive maglev to allow faster speed than wheels can sustain. Linear Induction Motors are located along the tube which helps the pod to accelerate and decelerate to appropriate speed in each section of the tube route.


  • With the help of minimal air resistance and minimum rolling resistance, the capsule will levitate for most of the part in the journey.


  • An axial compressor and an electric inlet fan are provided on the nose of the capsule which will transfer high-pressure air from the front to the rear end of the vessel. It will also help to resolve air pressure being built and slow down the pod as well.


Hyperloop pod design competition


  • In June 2015, SpaceX announced that they would finance a Hyperloop pod design competition where they would build a 1-mile long subscale test track.


  • However, they clarified it earlier that neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is any way associated with any hyperloop manufacturing company and also that they are not developing commercial hyperloops. They said they were just accelerating the development of a prototype.


  • In the first round of the competition held on Jan 28th-29th 2016, MIT was crowned as the winners ahead of the Delf University of Technology and University of Wisconsin-Madison.


  • Delf University won the best pod innovation award where the University of Washington claimed the safety subsystem award. In design category, Spanish university Universitat Politecnica de Valencia won the award.


  • However, in the final round of the competition held on 29th June 2017, Delf University claimed the best of all award ahead of Technical University Of Munich and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US.



Drawbacks Of Hyperloop


  • It is believed that the hyperloop experience might be scary and unpleasant. There would be high levels of noise due to air compression and ducting around the capsule.


  • Even though the tubes are smooth, seismic activities are still subjected to risks. As the ground is still going to shift if that happens. And minor deviations at high speeds from a straight path may add considerable buffeting.


  • Other maglev trains are brought in use which saves the extra hyperloop costs and can run at fast speeds as well. The SCMAGLEV in Japan demonstrates a 603 km/hr speed without vacuum tube using an extremely aerodynamic train design.


  • There are some design problems stated by Prof. John Hansman that how a slight misalignment in the tube would compensate for the potential airplay b/w the air cushion and low-pressure air.


  • He also interrogates the vulnerable state of pods and tubes which might be an easy and tempting target for terrorists.


 Estimation & Proposal of Hyperloop

The estimated cost of a proper construction of hyperloop tunnel network is around 100 Billion Dollars. But in spite of the obstacles and challenges, the tech geniuses have not left home yet.

Indian company DGW Hyperloop is proposing a Delhi Mumbai Hyperloop Corridor and at the same time, Hyperloop One has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Govt of Maharashtra that includes construction of a hyperloop system from Mumbai to Pune.

It is believed that this system would cut the travel time from 180 minutes to 20 minutes.


In September 2017, Hyperloop One selected 10 from strong 35 proposals. Bangalore-Chennai, Mumbai-Pune, Edinburgh-London Glasgow-Liverpool, Toronto-Montreal, Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo, and a few other routes are in construction as well.

This is going to be interesting to see as to how companies like Arrivo, Virgin Hyperloop One, DGW Hyperloop etc. will come up with a solution to the downsides of this unique yet fragile transportation system.

This concept needs a thorough discussion and research about the solutions that these companies are looking for. This is going to be a revolutionary change in the commutation sector and this change has the potential to take the world economy and accessibility of the world onto unexpected heights.

This is an open sourced idea as labeled by Elon Musk. Open sourced implies that anyone can participate in this idea and fuel the research with useful ideas. We the science enthusiasts are eagerly waiting for the day we could see and experience this fifth mode of transportation.

The guy behind this idea, Elon Musk has a great reputation of achieving unbelievable goals with his extraordinary talent, sheer dedication and unparalleled genius in this field.

He has already begun colonizing Mars and claims that he would make the red planet survivable for human beings by 2023. So, what if the stakes are high, we’ve got the best man on work. A man who has the ability to turn imagination to reality.


Final Thoughts on Hyperloop

There are a number of possible ways that a society shall benefit from this Hyperloop project. A heavy lessening in traffics and pollution being one of the greatest advantage society can fetch from this project. However, there are already many challenges to overcome for our scientists.

But every major change requires a lot of commitment and insightfulness which I’m sure our scientists already possess. Thus, we can expect that in the coming future we might see people travel into pods through the tubes.

So, This was all about Hyperloop introduction, Design, Working & drawbacks. What do you think about this idea? Can it bring a revolution in the coming years? Let us know your thoughts in the comment below.

Credit: Abhishek Ashwani Mishra (Sharda University)

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