Hyperloop is one of those ‘out there’ ideas, if it comes off, the effect will be enormous. It’s also a kind of credibility test for Elon Musk. Many believe it is all hype and no substance. Now we have had a development.
Sometimes it feels as if humanity is divided between those who think technology is set to change the world, and those who laugh it off and say, ‘all hype, no substance.’
Take hyperloop, as an example. This is the idea, first proposed by Elon Musk, for a new type of transport system.
It is essentially a levitated pod in a tube – the tube surrounds a partial vacuum and the pod will eventually be able to travel, or so we are told, at around 700 miles per hour.
So that’s people and cargo, transported at near supersonic speeds on a transport system that may well prove to be the successor to the train. It is meant to be cheaper to build from scratch than a conventional train route, and accompanying carriages, and its supporters say it will be safer than trains.
The idea was first proposed by Elon Musk, who put the suggestion out there, as it were, for other companies to develop.
The number of cynics are legion. If a hole develops in a tube containing a vacuum, air rushes in incredibly quickly – and that, say the critics is very dangerous. They also dispute the economics.
A number of companies have taken up the challenge, but so far, we have a lot of glossy presentations, and fancy simulations, but not a lot else.
Except, that is, for news that was released this week, relating to something that happened in May.
Hyperloop One, which has as its strapline: ‘We’re not selling transportation, we’re selling time’ has revealed the results of a test.
It was carried out in May, in the Nevada desert. The pod was the size of a kart like vehicle, and it travelled, in a vacuum, at 70 miles per hour for 5.6 seconds.
Co-founder Shervin Pishevar said of the test: "Hyperloop One has accomplished what no one has done before by successfully testing the first full scale Hyperloop system. By achieving full vacuum, we essentially invented our own sky in a tube, as if you’re flying at 200,000 feet in the air.”
He added “Hyperloop One will move people and things faster than at any other time in the world. 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.”
So, is that test enough to prove hyperloop is realistic, and not just hype?
Frankly, the critics won’t change their tune until the day when Hyperloop really is transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in around an hour.
And sending a kart like object at 70 miles per hour for less than six seconds hardly counts as cast iron proof.
But, it’s progress, and considering how recent the hyperloop project is, it is pretty rapid progress.
In the battle between tech bulls and cynics, we do not yet have enough evidence to give the bulls the victory, but they do seem to have won a round.