BIM May Have a Role in First Hyperloop Test Track

AECOM, which implemented BIM in 2015, will design and build the first Hyperloop test track for competition.

Forget planes, trains and automobiles: When it comes to transportation infrastructure, the Hyperloop may just be the next big thing. 

As cool as it would be to zip through a pressurized tube on your way to work, the project is still very early in its R&D stages. If Elon Musk has anything to say about it, though, it won’t stay that way for long—and AECOM is going to help. 

Check out the announcement video: 

Alternative Transportation Infrastructure

The Hyperloop is a proposal for a new type of high-speed transportation put forward by Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. Maybe you’ve heard of these two highly innovative companies. 

Rather than keep all the fun to himself though, Musk has been making a community project of this innovative transportation idea. On Jan. 29 and 30, university teams across the United States had the opportunity to present designs for Hyperloop pods in a Texas A&M University competition. The winners have been announced, with MIT taking home first place for the pod design. 

These pods will play a role in the search for a more practical method for long-distance mass transit. The hunt was inspired by the announcement of California’s high-speed train, which SpaceX claims is not the best solution for high-speed travel. 

In the words of SpaceX, “Short of figuring out real teleportation, which would of course be awesome (someone please do this), the only option for super-fast travel is to build a tube over or under the ground that contains a special environment.
However theoretical it is, we have the solution. Now we just have to make it.”

Building the Hyperloop

A conceptual rendering showing two unidirectional Hyperloop tubes welded together to create a bidirectional route. (Image courtesy of CNN/YouTube.)

A conceptual rendering showing two unidirectional Hyperloop tubes welded together to create a bidirectional route. (Image courtesy of CNN/YouTube.)

In order to test these designs, someone is going to have to build a test Hyperloop environment. 

The proposal has a long list of requirements, including that the new method of transportation needs to be safe, fast, cheap, convenient, immune to weather, sustainably self-powering, environmentally undisruptive and resistant to earthquakes. 

Naturally, the test environment will have to fit the bill as well. It will consist of a steel tube approximately six feet in diameter with a nonmagnetic subtrack, which will act as a vacuum-sealed test track for the high-speed pod prototypes.

Hyperloop and BIM

AECOM, a multidisciplinary engineering and consulting firm for infrastructure, is the first company planning to build a test track for the Hyperloop

“AECOM has designed and built some of the world’s most impressive transportation systems, so we appreciate how the development of a functioning Hyperloop with SpaceX can dramatically expand the ways people move across cities, countries and continents,” said Michael S. Burke, AECOM chairman and CEO. 

“What we are delivering is more than just a track to test pod prototypes; it’s a glimpse into the future,” Burke added. 

Back in November 2015, AECOM had a rather large role at Bentley’s Be Inspired Awards 2015, taking home the “Innovation in Project Delivery” award for its global project collaboration. This effort consisted of a method to share information and projects with all of its offices and became AECOM’s method of adopting company-wide building information modeling (BIM). 

Although AECOM hasn’t endorsed any kind of software for its design efforts yet, it seems likely that a pro-BIM design firm will use the platform for a massive transportation infrastructure project like the Hyperloop. 

Designs for the track are already underway, with construction expected to begin in spring 2016 and testing in summer 2016. 

For more information, check out the AECOM and SpaceX websites.