We have liftoff (for the most part)
Just last week we posted on the self-driving car revolution and how reports suggest that self-driving car technology is going to be the biggest thing since, well, the car was initially invented. But these autonomous vehicles are not the only change (or potential change) to the transportation industry as we know it.
Only yesterday (May 11), the first test of the Hyperloop propulsion system took place at the Hyperloop One test and Safety site in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
What is Hyperloop?
Hyperloop One is one of several companies competing with each other to bring one of Elon Musk's visions to life yes, the very same Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SpaceX (the guy just doesn't stop!). Musk suggested back in 2012 of transportation technology that would send pods of passengers and cargo inside giant vacuum tubes at incredibly high speeds. Musk, too busy with his other companies, has left the idea into the hands of (and encouraged) other driven individuals, creating quite the hype.
The propulsion technology for the Hyperloop involves levitating the pods using electricity and magnets to move through a low-friction environment at speeds exceeding 700 mph. Supporters of this tech believe that it is the fifth great mode of transport " and consider it a major revolutionary accomplishment in the transportation industry.
Rob Lloyd, the CEO of Hyperloop One, says Hyperloop is faster, greener, safer, and cheaper than any other mode of transportation. " That might be the case, someday, but for now it's really all just academic and mere speculation even considering yesterday's feat:
Fifteen hundred pounds of aluminum was propelled at 120 mph in just 1.5 seconds and then accelerated to 300 mph before hitting a sand berm. The sled (looking nothing like the hypothetical artistic renderings we've seen before) was rocketed via electromagnets and electrified copper coils. The demonstration, though merely seconds long, is said to be the first successful test of a futurist transit system of its kind.
Hyperloop One plans to move quickly into the transportation industry, citing their goal to move cargo by 2019 and people by 2021. The company doesn't seem to worry about financing at all, having announced that it had completed another $80 million round of financing and was partnering with firms including GE and SNCF, the French national railway system. "
Futuristic technological innovations are worthy of excitement: they're shiny, they're new, they're trendy and they are, in short, simply exciting; however, there's going to be a lot of work involved to get this levitating pod transportation system off the ground. Some things that need to be kept in mind are functionality, affordability, and safety will this work, will it be safe enough, and will it be affordable (to both build and use as a form of transportation)?
A 30-minute commute from LA to San Francisco, or from New York to Washington D.C. would be fantastic: shortening commuter time would benefit just about everyone (just imagine never having to be stuck in rush hour traffic again!). But every new innovation takes time and it takes objective observation: if this vision becomes a reality, what will happen to the obsolete transportation technology that we currently rely on?