Hyperloop Test Proves It Really Could Work
Erin Green posted on May 12, 2016 |
Open-air test demonstrates the functionality of a linear-electric motor in powering the Hyperloop co...

The test track has been built—and it would seem that the Hyperloop is off to the races.

The futuristic concept, first put forward by golden boy Elon Musk, has sparked quite a bit of contention over whether it would actually work as a high-speed transportation system. Several companies (some of them created for just this purpose) are racing to find a way to prove it can.

Now, the Hyperloop is quickly moving from a completely theoretical, Space-Age concept to an increasingly feasible technology. First, we needed to establish the core elements of the Hyperloop. Then, we needed a design for the pods. And now?

Well, now we need to put it to the test.


Open-Air Testing for the Hyperloop

On May 11, 2016, Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies) conducted what it called a POAT—a propulsion open-air test—in the Nevadan desert. The goal?

To prove that its Hyperloop motor really would work.

The test was reminiscent of the Wright Brothers’ Kitty Hawk moment. It was short and sweet, lasting all of two seconds, and could well have serious repercussions for the way we design our transportation.

Check it out:

From the look of things, the propulsion system that Hyperloop One has been developing works. There’s no word yet on potential levitation systems and the brakes clearly need more than a little improvement—most transit stations aren’t filled with large piles of sand—but it’s definitely progress.


Moving Hyperloop Along

The experiment was the first public test conducted for the Hyperloop concept and was designed specifically to show off the propulsion system—including the motor.

A rendering of Hyperloop One's test track and its propulsion system. (Image courtesy of Hyperloop One.)

A rendering of Hyperloop One's test track and its propulsion system. (Image courtesy of Hyperloop One.)

Realistically, the motor used isn’t all that different from one you’d see on a roller coaster or even on a modern high-speed rail project.

It’s a linear-electric motor with no moving parts and one big advantage: with the near-vacuum environment created by the Hyperloop’s tube, it would be able to push vehicles along at high speeds and without much effort.

In fact, it’s likely that the motors would only need to be installed on five to 10 percent of the track—approximately every 50 miles.

With one motor and no tube to reduce drag, the test sled managed to go from 0 to 100 mph in about a second while generating roughly 2.5Gs of force. Eventually, the hope is that this same motor could propel a more aerodynamic vehicle up to a speed of 700 mph in the Hyperloop tube.

With progress moving this quickly, it might not be long at all before we see transportation projects like the Hyperloop connecting our cities.

For more information, check out this webinar hosted by Hyperloop One's VP Josh Giegel.

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