Los Angeles-based startup Hyperloop One achieved record-breaking speeds in its first test using an actual pod, the company announced Wednesday. The 28.5-foot-long XP-1 pod magnetically levitated and accelerated down the 1,500-foot track to reach 192 miles per hour.
Afterward, co-founder Shervin Pishevar called the test “the dawn of a new era in transportation.”
The test, which occurred on Saturday in the Nevada desert, north of Las Vegas, marked the completion of the company’s second phase of testing. Hyperloop One executed its first full systems test on May 12, forgoing a pod for a 1,500-pound metal sled that topped out at 69 miles per hour and traveled 315 feet.
Needless to say, this latest test is a huge step forward. Pishevar said in a press release that the event marks “the dawn of a new era in transportation” that will “change the way we live, where we work, and make the world a much smaller place and turn cities into metro stops.”
More specifically, it marks a major advancement toward the company’s goal of getting three Hyperloop systems operating by 2021. These transit networks would provide incredibly efficient and quick service; Elon Musk recently predicted that Hyperloop transportation tubes could take a passenger from New York City to Washington, D.C., in around 29 minutes.
The company’s announcement noted that every component of the system “performed successfully, including the efficient linear electric motor, power electronics and controls, magnetic levitation and guidance, pod suspension and vacuum pumping.”
Elon Musk invented the concept for Hyperloop and famously explained the transit system in a 2013 white paper, claiming that it could reach speeds of 760 miles per hour. Hyperloop One has a ways to go before it reaches that speed, but it’s currently far ahead of its competitors, which include Arrivo and Musk’s own Boring Company. Musk is not affiliated with Hyperloop One.
How does Hyperloop work? The pod levitates on an air cushion and is propelled by a linear electric motor. The company describes the mechanics like this:
“In a traditional motor, the rotor (rotating part) spins inside the stator (static part), or vice-versa; in a linear motor, the stator is unwrapped and laid out flat, and the “rotor” moves past it in a straight line. In our case, the stators are installed along the track where we need acceleration. We add power to the stators, which produces electromagnetic currents that interact with the “rotor” elements underneath the vehicle to create propulsion. The rotor and stator never touch. […] Our system can draw power from whichever energy sources are available along the route. If that means solar and wind, then the entire system is 100% carbon free.”
The tube requires an extremely low-pressure environment to move that fast; Hyperloop One’s tube was depressurized to the equivalent of air that’s 200,000 feet above sea level. (For comparison, the city of Denver lies 5,280 feet above sea level.)
“As you see the videos of the test,” Pishevar said, “you’re gonna hear the sound of Hyperloop. And it sounds incredible. […] It’s the sound of the future.”
“Phase 1 proved that our technology works and that Hyperloop is real,” co-founder Josh Giegel said. “For Phase 2, we built upon everything we learned from our initial test and accomplished faster and faster speeds at a farther distance. We’re now one step closer to deploying Hyperloop around the world.”
Here’s a video of the test released by the company:
This new animation was also released on Wednesday:
As well as this pod diagram:
Here’s an abbreviated timeline of Hyperloop One’s milestones:
September 9, 2013: France’s state-owned railway company SNCF backs Hyperloop One.
February 12, 2015: Hyperloop One raises $11.1 million in Series A funding.
September 16, 2015: Then known as Hyperloop Technologies, the company raises $80 million and announces Rob Lloyd as CEO.
December 8, 2015: Hyperloop Technologies announces a land deal for an open-air test in Las Vegas. The test is expected for early 2016, and they expect a functioning system by 2020.
May 10, 2016: Hyperloop Technologies announces it has $80 million in Series B funding.
May 11, 2016: Hyperloop Technologies tests its propulsion system on a test track in Nevada. It predicts a full-scale public test by the end of the year.
June 21, 2016: Hyperloop One partners with the Russian Summa Group to develop a transportation system that will span 4,800 miles across Russia.
July 27, 2016: Hyperloop One has a new manufacturing plant in Nevada and begins producing parts for a prototype.
August 15, 2016: Hyperloop One announces plans to construct a high-speed shipping system in Dubai.
March 7, 2017: Hyperloop One reveals a shortened DevLoop in the Nevada desert. It was originally slated to be 3,000 meters but is now 500.
April 6, 2017: Hyperloop One reveals 11 possible routes for the United States.
April 19, 2017: Hyperloop One defends delays with its technology.
May 12, 2017: Hyperloop One completes its first full systems test, in which a test sled reaches 70 miles per hour.
July 29, 2017: Hyperloop One completes another full systems test. This time, the pod reaches 192 miles per hour, the fastest speed any Hyperloop pod has reached to date.
TBA: A full-scale public test.
Additional research by Dan Robitzski and writing by Nick Lucchesi.