Virgin Hyperloop makes history, carrying first 2 passengers at 172km/hr

Josh Giegel and Sara Luchian

After running over 400 un-occupied tests, today, Virgin Hyperloop reached a major milestone, carrying 2 people in their 500m Hyperloop test track, for the first time.

Hyperloop is a new type of transport, a “fifth mode” adding to planes, trains, cars and boats.

Normal trains a restricted by rolling resistance, which solved by magnetically levitating the train as we see in countries like Japan. The next barrier to faster speeds is wind resistance, so Hyperloop solves this by wrapping the train (or modules) inside a tube and removing the air pressure, allowing it to travel much faster than any ground-transport on offer today.

Originally dreamed up by Elon Musk, he admitted there were enough projects on his plate, with Tesla (Cars and Energy), SpaceX, Starlink, The Boring Company to name a few. The idea was then opened to the world and is now being commercialised by multiple parties.

Today it seems Virgin is leading the pack, with a test of 2 humans, Sara Luchian and Josh Giegel who both work for the company. As you’d expect, this first run was fairly tame, to ensure it was safe, running at a fairly conservative speed of 48 meters per second, or around 172.8 km/hr.

The potential top speed of hyperloop could be as high as 1,200km/hr which could dramatically change how we think about long-distance travel and freight distribution.

As an example, a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a 5hr 40-minute journey by car, 9hr 7min trip by train, would take less than 1hr on Hyperloop, avoiding that soul-crushing traffic.

While the G-forces on the pod were three times that of an airplane, “it was much smoother than I expected. And unlike an airplane, there were no lateral forces that would have caused the pod to sway.

Sara Luchian, 37, one of the test riders and the company’s director of passenger experience.

The occupants made their maiden voyage on the newly-unveiled XP-2 vehicle, designed by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group and Kilo Design, which was custom-built with occupant safety and comfort in mind.

While the production vehicle will be larger and seat up to 28 passengers, this 2-seater XP-2 vehicle was built to demonstrate that passengers can in fact safely travel in a hyperloop vehicle.

“It felt not that much different than accelerating in a sports car.”

Josh Giegel, 35, the company co-founder and the other volunteer rider.

“This is a step of historical significance. I don’t think you can overstate it. This is a moonshot moment. I have no doubt this will change the world.”

Jay Walder, the company’s chief executive, pointing to 20 months of planning.

The photos from the event are pretty amazing, so I’ve included a comprehensive gallery below. Credit to Virgin Hyperloop for all the photos.

It is interesting to see the riders are strapped in with a 4-point safety harness and wearing headphones. I suspect this is again related to the fact this is early testing and by the time it’s ready for regular people, this will be little more than a seatbelt and headphones will be optional.

Personally, I’d take a ride in this in a heartbeat and would absolutely volunteer to try it out. What do you think? Leave a comment below and let us know if you’re keen to see this technology be implemented in Australia.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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