Hyperloop One confirms date of first full-scale prototype demo run

According to Rod Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, the company plans to hold the first demonstration of a full-scale prototype of the Hyperloop electromagnetic propulsion pod transportation system in early 2017. Before that, on 7 November 2016 it will unveil the new Hyperloop pod design.

The demonstration will take place in the Dubai Port, with which Hyperloop One recently signed an agreement. It is from Dubai that the company is planning to start regular transportation of cargo initially, followed by passengers within five to six years. The pods are expected to complete the journey between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes.

The full-scale prototype test run is the next natural step for the company after Hyperloop One conducted the first live trial of Hyperloop technology on May 11, 2016.

“I am an optimist, our philosophy is to build quickly and our programme rests on three engineering challenges: levitation, propulsion and control of environment, “ Lloyd told E&T at the recent Innotrans exhibition in Berlin.

“The idea is to eliminate friction using magnets and electromagnetic force. I see it as a new mode of transportation that will add high-speed paths to already existing routes,” he said.

Similar to Google’s origins, Hyperloop One was started in a Californian garage a couple of years ago. Now, the company has 180 staff, including 130 engineers, offices in LA and testing facility in Nevada.

Funds could potentially present the main stumbling block for Hyperloop. As Lloyd acknowledged, for the project to work there has to be a large network of tunnels, with construction costs likely to average $150 million dollars per mile. This is not deterring Hyperloop One, whose ambitious plans include a 28-minute journey from Helsinki to Stockholm.

“If we are successful, we’ll eliminate the barriers of time and distance – and we will be successful,” Lloyd said.

Two other major Hyperloop-related companies were represented at the Innotrans event: the LA-based Hyperloop Transport Technology (HTT) company, with offices in Dubai and testing facilities under construction in Bratislava, and the Canadian-based Transpod, which demonstrated a model of its capsule at the exhibition.

Transpod is planning to use a linear induction with active magnetic system, with electromagnetic engines installed inside the pod itself, and not in the tunnel, which they believe will substantially reduce the costs. Their first route is likely to be in Canada, between Montreal and Toronto.

“Our motto is slowly, but surely, only not too slowly,“ Hoang Mai, the company’s chief legal officer, told E&T. 

The technological principle used by Hyperloop One is not new. While its modern concept was pioneered by Elon Musk in 2013, the origins of the idea of a silent hyper-fast transportation system using compressed air go back to 1799, when George Medhurst, a British engineer, first patented his “Aeolian engine”. These were further developed half a century later by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in his 1847 “Atmospheric Railway” between Exeter and Newton Abbot, which soon closed due to the excessive costs.

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