The hyperloop is a fascinating concept. And that’s what it’s been for years: A concept. Nobody had ever put together a passenger pod and launched it down a tube at hundreds of miles an hour. Until this weekend, that is.
Hyperloop One has revealed that it successfully tested a pod for the first time, putting it on the tracks and getting it up to nearly 200 miles an hour in a tube with the air pumped out of it, using magnetic levitation technology to propel it. With less air in the tube, there’s less air resistance, letting the pod move faster, and the magnetic levitation removes the friction of wheel touching rail in typical trains, letting the pod more quickly accelerate and maintain its speeds. The ultimate goal is to network the country with these fast-moving pods, ideally getting them up to even higher speeds and making traveling up and down the coasts or even across the country faster, simpler, and ideally cheaper.
The test itself is mostly a proof of concept; while the track had been tested, and while the pod worked in theory, the two had never really met before. Now that they have, Hyperloop One can move onto the next phase — actually getting people to build this thing somewhere it’ll be used. That may be trickier than it sounds. Building a giant tube, constantly sucking the air from it, and figuring out where it will go will be an expensive process involving lots of cities, courts, and groups. But at least now we know it can actually be done.