Musk's Hyperloop comes closer to reality, completes test

Billionaire Elon Musk's Hyperloop One on Wednesday announced the successful completion of the world's first Hyperloop test in a vacuum environment, laying the foundations for a transport system that could cut the 424-mile journey from London to Edinburgh to 50 minutes

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It was the first phase of a multi-phase programme which was privately conducted on 12 May at the company's test track, 'DevLoop', in the Nevada Desert.

It will be some time before the Hyperloop becomes a reality given the complexity of the new technology, but the test marks an important step, according to the company.

The vehicle coasted above the first portion of the track for 5.3 seconds using magnetic levitation while achieving the target speed of 70 mph set for phase 1. ''Hyperloop One has accomplished what no one has done before by successfully testing the first full scale Hyperloop system,'' said Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One, in a statement.

''For the first time in over 100 years, a new mode of transportation has been introduced. Hyperloop is real, and it's here now,'' he added.

The company tested the operation of all the system's components including motor, vehicle-suspension, magnetic levitation, electromagnetic braking, vacuum pumping system and more as a single integrated unit in a vacuum. The procedure involved thousands of hours of work by nearly 200 engineers, fabricators, and welders.

The next phase of testing will target speeds of 250mph. In addition to announcing the private test, Hyperloop One also unveiled the prototype of its pod that will work within the integrated system. Built of structural aluminium and a lightweight carbon fibre, the 28-feet shell will transport passengers and cargo inside the tube using electromagnetic propulsion and magnetic levitation.

 Hyperloop is a transportation system which proposes to propel a pod-like vehicle through a near-vacuum tube at more than airline speed. The system was earlier presented in India by Hyperloop One as part of its ''vision for India'' in which Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu showed keen interest.

''With Hyperloop One, the world will be cleaner, safer and faster. It's going to make the world a lot more efficient and will impact the ways our cities work, where we live and where we work. We'll be able to move between cities as if cities themselves are metro stops,'' Pishevar noted.

The first version of the pod reached 70 miles per hour in the 5.3 second test in the Nevada desert in May. Hyperloop One said it used just 100 feet of the motor and that this will improve as "the longer the motor the faster we can go".

The company is one of a number of private firms and research groups developing versions of the system, which is the brainchild of Musk. The US billionaire launched a competition for organisations to develop a feasible version of the idea back in 2015.

California-based Hyperloop One is the first team to unveil a working prototype for the mode of transport and to test it. It will further test its preliminary technology in the coming months.

The company unveiled its 500metre-long test track earlier this year, as well as announcing a number of potential Hyperloop routes in Europe. The nine proposed routes include three in the UK: London to Edinburgh, Cardiff to Glasgow, and Liverpool to Glasgow.