Hyperloop Tech Completes High-Speed, Full-Scale Demonstration (w/videos)



Hyperloop One

Hyperloop One Rendering

Yesterday afternoon, in the desert outside of Las Vegas, the first successful, public hyperloop test was performed for an “elite, invite only” audience.

Los Angeles based startup Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies) sent its test vehicle down a “roller coaster” style track at speeds over 300 mph.

The hyperloop is an Elon Musk vision that the company has been working to bring to life. Although most reports are saying that the demo didn’t look like much, and that this was no big deal, it was proof that the new electromagnetic propulsion system is actually becoming a reality.

The system will be able to go from 0-100 MPH in less than a second, and when the final, more aerodynamic product is finished it will hit speeds over 700 MPH. The final product will travel through a low pressure tube, and spectators were told that it will have brakes, unlike the test cart that smashed into piles of sand. The low pressure tube causes a vacuum which lessens the need for power, thus increasing efficiency, reducing energy use, and keeping cost down.

Josh Giegel, senior vice president of engineering, spoke to a reporter at Mashable. He explained:

“Unlike typical motors, this one has no moving parts. Giegel described the motors as “blades” and what you might get if you took a typical electric motor, cut it down the seam and unrolled it. When powered, these roughly 2-feet tall by 6-inch wide blades create electromagnetic energy that reacts with the pod and pushes it along.”

Reports speculate that we will see the first of this type of transportation overseas long before it comes to North America.

More videos are available at the links below.

Sources: Gizmodo, Mashable

Category: General

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65 responses to "Hyperloop Tech Completes High-Speed, Full-Scale Demonstration (w/videos)"
  1. kdawg says:

    “The system will be able to go from 0-100 MPH in less than a second, and when the final, more aerodynamic product is finished it will hit speeds over 700 MPH.”
    I don’t think being able to accelerate fast is necessary. It’s a people mover and you don’t want too many G’s. However top speed is very important as it relates to overall travel time.

    1. Dan says:

      Anything that accelerates more than about 50 mph per second will start hitting the endurance of the average human. They are talking about 400 mph in 2 seconds. That’s between 9 and 10g. At those g forces, even seasoned airforce pilots taught to breathe against the g forces will go into G-LOC and lose consciousness

      1. mr. M says:

        I think it doesn’t matter if you reach 100 mph in 1,2 or 3 seconds. It works and is prety darn fast with a top Speed of 300mph already.

        1. Dan says:

          Sorry, but physics DOES matter!

      2. Brave Lil Toaster says:

        The answer to that is simple. Add more mass. Then acceleration goes down with the same amount of force.

        In other words, actually put people and luggage on the hyperloop cars, and the problem goes away.

        1. Jeff K says:

          Excellent point. May the mass x acceleration be with you!

    2. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      Higher acceleration would be useful for moving cargo.

      1. Sublime says:

        Exactly. I really think the first full length prototypes of this technology should be sized to carry 2’x2′ sized cargo. Fedex, UPS, or Amazon should be funding this.

        Could you imagine if Amazon connected their regional warehouses with hyperloop tubes that could transport 99% of what they sell at 700mph and way cheaper than any carrier.

        Warehouse -> hyperloop -> warehouse -> drone -> destination

        They could get 4 hour delivery to a really high % of the population.

        1. G2 says:


    3. Brian says:

      Exactly. Accelerating that fast approaches an aircraft carrier plane launch. I did that once. It felt like riding in a golf ball off the tee. WHACK and you’re airborne.

      1. jh says:

        If I remember core try their first goal is not people it is containers. And one of their ambitions is to create inland ports, freeing up seaside property for people.

  2. drpawansharma says:

    I do not understand! Isn’t hyperloop supposed to be a vacuumed tube? i mean how is the prototype shown here propulsed?

    1. kdawg says:

      It moves through a vacuum, but is propelled by electromagnetic rails.

      I’m sure testing the vacuum system will be one of the next endeavors. Baby steps…

      1. philip d says:

        The rails are actually passive.

        “Currently, a method known as “maglev” is used by trains such as the Shanghai Maglev. It requires copper coils along the track and a very high power supply, making the infrastructure expensive. HTT’s (Hyperloop Transportation Technologies) “Hyperloop Levitation System” will do away with the need for this older infrastructure. The track is made out of aluminum rather than copper and much of the power for the motor is regenerated when the pods brake.

        “Utilizing a passive levitation system will eliminate the need for power stations along the Hyperloop track, which makes this system the most suitable for the application and will keep construction costs low,” Bibop Gresta, chief operating officer of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, said in a press release.”

        This is an excellent video that shows how the pod operates.

        1. kdawg says:

          True, the linear motors are on the pod instead of in the rails. I think drpawansharma was thinking it was pushed by air like the air-tubes at banks.

        2. PJ says:

          But this is Hyperloop One not HTT. Do they also use this passive system?

          1. philip d says:

            I assume they are but don’t know for sure. Their design does use the compressor fan in the front for lift and some propulsion. I thought it would be a combo of the two but maybe not.

            Maybe they will have a sort of starter track like in this test to get the pod up to a minimum speed required where compression is high enough for thrust and levitation. Once there the pod travels on it’s own to the next “booster” track. Each station track section that would be active wouldn’t need to be very long which would reduce costs.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Yeah, calling this a “Hyperloop” demo is trying to ride Elon Musk’s coat-tails to success.

      That said, I’m glad to see some experiments being done with a different kind of maglev system that uses permanent magnets, so it doesn’t need the very expensive (per mile) and very energy-intensive maglev system which requires cryogenic cooling.

      But Hyperloop uses cars or capsules suspended on a cushion of air, as an air hockey puck rides on a cushion of air; and the capsules ride inside a evacuated tube (evacuated as in vacuum; not a perfect vacuum, but still close to zero air pressure).

      Nothing in this demo used any of the unique parts of Musk’s Hyperloop proposal. It’s a case of false advertising. Too bad the people promoting this maglev system didn’t think it could fly (so to speak) on its own merits.

  3. Texas FFE says:

    I still don’t think Elon Musk deserves credit for the vacuum tube maglev train concept. The vacuum tube maglev train concept has been around for decades. There was a TV series back in the 1970s called Genesis 2 that featured a vacuum tube maglev train.

    1. kubel says:

      Centrifugal artificial gravity (as an idea) has been around for decades too, but nobody has been crazy enough to say, “here’s what I want to build”. He doesn’t deserve credit for the idea, but he motivated others- ironically the same way Tesla is motivating other automakers to make compelling EVs.

      1. mr. M says:

        What? Pilotes and astronauts are Training since years in centrifuges for gravity Training.

    2. philip d says:

      I think they need to do a better job of explaining their idea. Everyone thinks it is some sort of maglev rail train. It is not a maglev train at all. It uses passive rails not charged rails. Part of the confusion comes from them actually using powered rails for this specific test.

      The passenger pod will make use of permanent magnets arranged in a Halbach Array that generates lift against the passive rails as the pod moves over the rails faster and faster (Inductrack). Then it’s the pod’s on-board propulsive electromagnetic motor with batteries that propel it forward or slow it down regenerating power back to the batteries.

      For this early test it appears that they externalized the pod’s propulsion system to the rails which is like a maglev. The sled then may have been only been for testing the permanent magnet Halbach Array to test it’s lifting power at speed.

      Separately the pod also has a compressor fan in the front that compresses the very thin incoming air (1/1000 atmposhere) rather than displacing it around the pod. This compressed air is used by redirecting it down to help in levitation at high speeds as well as acting as aerobraking if needed.

      This system makes use of only the power stored in batteries aboard the pod and is very efficient. The only other power the system uses are periodically placed pump stations that keep the tube at low pressure.

      1. PJ says:

        HTT is using Inductrack they just released a video on it a few days ago. But this is a different company not sure if they are also using Inductrack.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        philip d said:

        “It is not a maglev train at all. It uses passive rails not charged rails.”

        “Maglev” means “magnetic levitation”. This system does use a magnetic field to “levitate” the train (or car) above the rails, so it’s still maglev. However, it uses permanent magnets on the rails instead of power-hungry electro-magnets.

        But this ain’t Hyperloop tech, because Hyperloop doesn’t use maglev at all, in any form. Nor do I believe a transportation system requiring permanent powerful magnets spaced all along the length of the system can be nearly as cheap per mile as a system that uses plain tubes made of mild steel.

    3. SeeRexx says:

      Musk had the bright idea of making it with PARTIAL vacuum, reducing costs and engineering difficulties.

      And putting his name on it added much interest in the project.

      1. SJC says:

        “PARTIAL vacuum…”
        1/1000th atmosphere is harder than “partial”. So yes, it IS a vacuum maglev.

    4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      What Elon (and/or whatever team of engineers Elon used to develop his idea) deserves credit for is modifying the old idea of a train traveling at very high speed in an evacuated tube; modifying the old idea so it’s more practical, and can be done with today’s technology.

      The tube system seen on “Genesis II” (and “Planet Earth”, a reworking of the same concept) would — if it actually worked — have required a perfect vacuum in front of the capsules, and would have been propelled by compressed air behind the capsules.

      In practice, it’s impossible to maintain a perfect or near-perfect vacuum in a large, very long tube. When you try to shove something along that actually fills the diameter of the tube, the trace air in front of a capsule builds up to the point that there’s significant air pressure in front, greatly slowing the capsule. So achieving near-sonic (or supersonic) speed that way is not practical.

      Elon’s idea was to use capsules that are highly streamlined but don’t completely fill the tube, leaving a significant gap so the traces of air will flow over and around the capsules instead of piling up in front. And he proposed using a low-tech “air ski” suspension system, which would be massively cheaper than maglev. To provide forward thrust, he proposed linear accelerators which would boost the capsule up to speed, and then would give additional boosts at widely spaced intervals along the route. For most of the journey, the capsules would just coast along, which means all you really need for most of the length is just the low-tech tube itself. The air ski suspension would be powered by the capsule itself, presumably using batteries.

      Again, this would be massively cheaper per mile than, say, the Shanghai Maglev Train, which at only 19 miles of length is the world’s longest operational maglev train, because maglev is so expensive per mile.

      Hyperloop concept:

      “How Air Casters Work:

      “Genesis II” and “Planet Earth”:

  4. SparkEV says:

    Hyperloop may have made sense in 1960’s, but it’s a big target for terrorists if implemented today. Small bomb placed anywhere along will surely kill everyone on board at 700 MPH or even at 300 MPH. They might as well paint big bull’s eye along the entire length.

    It’ll be slow compared to plane due to indirect paths (terrain, property rights), multiple stops, TSA will want to grope you, etc. etc. Basically, it suffers all the problems of high speed rail and more. Without subsidy, this has no hope, at least not in US, probably nowhere else, either.

    Best are self driving cars + planes.

    1. kdawg says:

      You’re right. We should never build anything ever.. #becauseterrorism

      1. SparkEV says:

        Nowhere do I say we shouldn’t build anything due to terrorism. We should not build anything that will be slower, cost more, less convenient, and giant target for terrorists. That will just become another Amtrak, sucking on tax payer money for poor service. Hyperloop fits all that.

        When you can have self driving EV in smart highway that will be quicker, cheaper, more convenient (door to door), and far less of a target to terrorists, hyperloop makes no sense. If government funded, that money is better spent on smart EV roads.

        1. kdawg says:

          I’m pretty sure self-driving cars are not going to travel at 700mph across the country, or 300mph locally. Airplanes do not even go that fast.

          Also, this would run on electricity, thus no more burning fossil fuels.

          1. SparkEV says:

            700 mph across country, making multiple stops and circuitous route hugging mountains and rivers will be slower than airplane. For long distance, plane will still be faster in many (most?) cases. Unlike plane, you only have limited number of tubes, thus requiring multiple stops.

            Even for about 500 miles, EV will be faster since you bypass TSA and drive to/from station.

            In all cases, self driving EV will be cheaper for ~1000 miles (ie, without hotel). If you’re taking more than couple of people, EV will be far cheaper as you don’t have to buy tickets per person.

            Now if you’re talking about CO2, then Hyperloop might be better. But most people don’t care; if they did, they wouldn’t be driving solo in SUV at 10 MPH in traffic jams daily. It seems there are more SUV and trucks than sedans on road these days.

            1. Name says:

              Whenever I fly across country it takes ALL DAY in a plane. They treat everyone like a terrorist AND they lose my luggage (which I had to pay extra for).

            2. Kdawg says:

              Why would the hyperloop need TSA? I have to get to the airport 2 hours in advance to board a flight. In 2 hours, a hyperloop pod could have traveled over 1000 miles.

              Also multiple pods can leave a station where if you miss your flight, you’re screwed.

              1. SparkEV says:

                There used be a time when it was as convenient to board a plane as buses. That was in 1960’s. They’re not going to let 700 MPH people mover without groping people. Same will apply to high speed rail once some idiot bring a bomb on board (or a gun or a box cutter).

            3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              “Unlike plane, you only have limited number of tubes, thus requiring multiple stops.”

              Nope. Each individual car will be — or at least, can be — self-powered, like a bus. This isn’t designed to use long trains, where the entire train has to stop at each depot. Each individual car can potentially go to a different destination, so stops along the way should be minimal.

              And anyway, the companies actually working to develop the tech are talking about using it first to move freight, with passenger service to come later. So there won’t be any target for terrorism, at least in the initial stages.

              Subways and passenger trains are potential targets for terrorism, too. Thank goodness there aren’t a lot of people suggesting we should shut down all train service just because of a relatively a few fanatics who want to take others with them when they commit suicide!

              Your chances of being injured or killed by lightning are much greater than your chances of being injured or killed by a terrorist. You don’t waste your time worrying about being injured or killed by lightning, do you?

              So I suggest you stop wasting your time worrying about terrorists, and get on with living your life.

              1. SparkEV says:

                Again (and again and again), terrorism risk is along with other factors. One has to weigh the cost/benefit, and Hyperloop simply doesn’t offer the benefit for HUGE increase in risk.

                If used to move cargo, traditional trains work just fine. If needed at “high speed”, planes work just fine. 700 MPH simply isn’t compelling enough unless it gets far cheaper. With one bombing to a section, they’ll have to spend TSA equivalent on each mile of the tube, and I don’t see any way it’d be cheaper.

    2. Sublime says:

      We should all stop having kids too, they’re just targets for terrorists.

      1. SparkEV says:

        We should develop self driving EV and smart highway, but not have kids for fear of terrorism? *rolls eyes*

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          He was making a sarcastic comment on your rather exaggerated fear of terrorists, Sparky.

          1. SparkEV says:

            Which is why I rolled eyes. While he read the first part, he completely ignored the second part that I advocate for more development in better self driving cars. In fact, it seems all the posters only see the first part and not the second.

    3. MDEV says:

      Yes leave if for China or India because we are too scare of been a superpower.

    4. Avishay says:

      How is that more of a target for terrorists than a high speed train? You could easily derail one with a small bomb, theoretically.

      1. SparkEV says:

        That’s why high speed rail is also a boondoggle. At ~300 MPH, small bomb to derail it will result in many deaths. There’s no easy way to protect the entire length of HSR, same with Hyperloop.

        Now if you take the money on HSR (~$70B) to subsidize SparkEV (~$18K), you can subsidize almost 4 million of them at 100%. This and more of my ranting on HSR is in my blog “vs California high speed rail”


    5. ModernMarvelFan says:

      If passenger is the problem for terrorism concerns, then use it for cargo then.

      It will be more efficient than trucking and trains potentially.

      1. SparkEV says:

        You’ll still need trucking. Roads are ubiquitous, rail and tubes are not.

        As for efficiency, consider the cost associated with building this thing, and it won’t be efficient. If you follow CA high speed rail, cost has ballooned from $30B promised to voter to over $110B after it passed only to settle down at $70B by cutting hundreds of miles from the original plan. Hyperloop will need land, just like HSR, and it will be expensive.

    6. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Refusing to even consider a large building project merely because some terrorist, somewhere, might possibly want to blow it up, is precisely what the terrorists want. Thank goodness not everyone is so timid that they let the terrorists discourage them from Thinking Big!

      The United States is the country that built the Eerie Canal, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Panama Canal, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Time to start Thinking Big again!

      And a Bronx cheer to those who let terrorists making them into cowards who want to hide in bomb shelters, quaking with fear.

      Reality check: Your chances of being killed by a terrorist are less than your chances of winning the lottery. So don’t let fear of such a very faint possibility stop you from dreaming big, or from living your life to the fullest.

      Still good advice today: “The only thing we have to fear… is fear itself.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

    7. Someone out there says:

      Terrorism? Seriously? With that argument you can never build anything anywhere!
      Over the last 20 years, on average about 300 Americans has died to terrorism yearly and that includes 9/11. Meanwhile, bad food, smoking, alcohol and driving kills millions every year but of course, the real danger are the terrorists! Be afraid, very afraid!

      1. SparkEV says:

        Most likely, Hyperloop will ban bad food, smoking, no driving (alcohol or not), so the risks are mechanical and terrorists. Of the two, terrorists risk is far more when it’s doing well and they can kill hundreds or thousands of people with few bombs placed anywhere along thousands of miles of tube. So yeah, be VERY VERY afraid of terrorists.

  5. Ocean Railroader says:

    I think if this thing can run above ground out of a tube at 300 miles on hour that would be perfectly good. Besides I wouldn’t want to ride in a dark steel pipe for 500 miles on hour in a airless. Think of what would happen if the tube broke open or the train car broke open in the airless tube.

    If this thing can do 300 miles on hour without a tube then it looks good.

    1. kdawg says:

      Here’s a good read. Check out the “Safety” sections.


  6. Joe says:

    I can understand the concept and I can understand it if you only want to send one car on one line. When you start sending multiple cars to different destinations with stops and passing along the way it adds a whole new complexity to it.

    1. Brave Lil Toaster says:

      Yeah. People can’t do complexity. I mean, if you just want to send data from one computer to the next over a wire, that’s one thing, but send it to *multiple* computers? That’s madness.

    2. jh says:

      Sure. And that’s shy the hyperloop simply skip that complexity. This concept is ground up built for small packages delivered point to point.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      The one thing that seems pretty silly to me about Musk’s original Hyperloop Alpha design was that he proposed building tubes with no branches, and no stations in between the end points, so that you’d have to build a separate pair of tubes for travel to and from each pair of cities.

      Surely someone can figure out how to do switching in the tube system, to let it work more like a railroad. It would be much more economical to have the ability to use a single pair of tubes that would have multiple stations, multiple places to stop along the way, so that one tube “railway” could serve multiple cities.

      And I’m glad to see that at least one team leader working on making Hyperloop a reality is indeed thinking about how to do that.

  7. mxs says:

    Yeah … they could not build train network in North America, sufficient enough for public transit/commute …. yet somehow they will be able to build this?

    Taxpayers money this time? Because it was not taxpayers money when we talk about rail network development in North America.

    Maybe this is a rail for the “1%” which Bernie loves to speak to frequently.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      mxs said:

      “Taxpayers money this time? Because it was not taxpayers money when we talk about rail network development in North America.”

      I guess you know very little about the development of railroads in America. The initial cross-country rail lines were all heavily subsidized by the government giving the railroads lots of free land which they sold to help finance the building projects. And many or perhaps most railroads continue to be subsidized to this day, not only in the USA, but all across the world. Of course, other transportation systems are also heavily subsidized, from Europe’s mass transit systems to America’s network of public streets and highways.

      In general, very few large-scale building projects are built or maintained without assistance from any government, despite what some oft-repeated, politically motivated, Hard Right propaganda claims.

  8. georges says:

    Really an interesting concept. Thx Philip d for explaining some of the tech details.

    This concept sounds like it is designed to move heavier cargo at the lowest energy consumption per mile. …plus it’s all electric so PV provides the power you have a carbon free transport mode for heavyer cargo. All super good.

    I have misgivings though from a security standpoint like SparkEV was saying.

    The other thing that bothers me is Elon just kind of gave it away. You’d think if he thought it was so great he would have pursued it on his own

    1. Phr≡d says:

      48hrs quote:

      “I bin BIZ-zee..’

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      georges said:

      “The other thing that bothers me is Elon just kind of gave it away. You’d think if he thought it was so great he would have pursued it on his own”

      Yeah, why doesn’t he start up a Hyperloop company himself? I’m sure he has lots of spare time, in between overseeing Tesla Motors, SpaceX, being on the Board of SolarCity, and raising his children. I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t have taken the helm on developing that himself! [/snark]

  9. Someone out there says:

    That’s all? Oh boy, the hyperloop is far away still!

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Yes, there is still a long way to go to demonstrate an actual working Hyperloop system, even a short demonstration system.

      The reporter on the PBS News Hour said this demo wasn’t like the Wright Bros’ first (powered, controlled) flight at Kitty Hawk, but more like one of the glider tests they did before they started work on building Flyer I.

  10. Four Electrics says:

    The EMF produced by this system must be unreal. Only a problem if you’re a child susceptible to leukemia, however.

  11. Bill Howland says:

    Automotive News just reported the speed at 100 mph? So which reporter has the correct figure..