Hyperloop’s promise of an ultrafast levitating transportation system came a step closer at the weekend after Virgin Hyperloop conducted its first-ever test ride with passengers.
The hyperloop technology combines an ultra-efficient electric motor, magnetic levitation, and a low-drag environment to propel passenger-carrying pods at high speed through tubes above or below ground.
A video (top) released by Virgin Hyperloop shows the company’s chief technology officer Josh Giegel and director of customer experience Sara Luchian buckled in for the ride, which took place at its 500-meter DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The two-seat passenger pod with Giegel and Luchian inside reached a top speed of 107 mph (172 kph), with the video showing both passengers smiling broadly as the pod travels along the track
It was much slower than the eventual target speed of 760 mph (about 1,223 kph), but Virgin Hyperloop said the test run “demonstrates that passengers can in fact safely travel in a hyperloop vehicle.” Earlier tests without passengers have seen a Virgin hyperloop pod reach speeds of 240 mph (386 kph).
“When we started in a garage over six years ago, the goal was simple — to transform the way people move,” Giegel said after the ride. “Today, we took one giant leap toward that ultimate dream, not only for me, but for all of us who are looking towards a moonshot right here on Earth.”
Luchian said hyperloop “is about so much more than the technology. It’s about what it enables. To me, the passenger experience ties it all together. And what better way to design the future than to actually experience it first-hand?”
The two-seat test pod has been designed with safety in mind, and following the successful test run the team will now turn its attention toward incorporating many of its features into the planned 28-seat passenger pod for commercial rides, which Virgin says could start by 2030, subject to overcoming any technical challenges and regulatory hurdles.
Commenting on the successful passenger test, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said: “For the past few years, the Virgin Hyperloop team has been working on turning its ground-breaking technology into reality. With today’s successful test, we have shown that this spirit of innovation will in fact change the way people everywhere live, work, and travel in the years to come.”