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Virtual Hyperloop concept offers insight into future of travel

Image credit: Malpetr | Dreamstime.com

Taking a glimpse into the possible future of high-speed ground transport, a group of engineers and designers have unveiled a virtual experience which envisages how Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept could look.

The immersive virtual reality experience – developed by a team from the Netherlands Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) – details the exterior and interior design of travel pods, which pass through a station filled with information screens and navigational signage.

As it sets off on its journey, the pod’s curved top half is seen transforming into transparent panels, providing a panoramic view of the outside world.

Undated handout image issued by the Tancredi Group of a design for the exterior of a Hyperloop pod, which has been revealed by a group of engineers and designers, who have envisaged how Elon Musk's Hyperloop could look.

Design concept for the exterior of a Hyperloop pod, which has been revealed by a group of engineers and designers, who have envisaged how Elon Musk's Hyperloop could look.

Image credit: Delft University/INDG/AltSpace/PA

The virtual model developed is part of a SpaceX competition entry from TU Delft – an annual competition first established in 2017 – to encourage students to come up with innovative prototypes for Hyperloop.

Over the course of the three years, 21 groups from around the world have been competing to achieve the fastest top speed along SpaceX’s fully enclosed 1.25km test track, with Delft University previously winning the contest in its first year.

To accelerate the development of Hyperloop concept, the SpaceX competition allows for these students to design and build a half-sized Hyperloop pod, to travel through a 1.2km low pressure tube, built by Musk’s company in California.

“At Delft Hyperloop we do not just focus on setting a new speed record at the SpaceX competition, but also on the long-term future of the Hyperloop,” said Rieneke van Noort, team captain of concept, known as Delft Hyperloop III.

“A part of this is showing the public what it will be like to travel using this new system,” she added. “Through VR, we want to enable people to experience the Hyperloop in an interactive and immersive way.

“It is great to see people’s enthusiasm when they walk through the Hyperloop station and board one of the pods,” van Noort said.

Undated handout image issued by the Tancredi Group of a design concept for a Hyperloop station.

Design concept for a Hyperloop station envisaged by students from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands.

Image credit: Delft University/INDG/AltSpace/PA Wire

Although SpaceX founder Elon Musk came up with the concept for Hyperloop, he open-sourced the technology to allow other firms to develop the idea. In a 2013 white paper, Musk described the system as “a cross between Concorde, a rail gun and an air hockey table”.

The theory is that the system will feature a long tube that has had air removed from it to create a vacuum. Then, passive magnetic levitation will be used to create low pressure within the tube and allow the train to float above the track and travel at aircraft speeds.

Undated handout image issued by the Tancredi Group of a design for the interior of a Hyperloop pod, which has been revealed by a group of engineers and designers, who have envisaged how Elon Musk's Hyperloop could look.

Concept design for the interior of a Hyperloop pod, which has been revealed by a group of engineers and designers from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), who have envisaged how Elon Musk's Hyperloop could look.

Image credit: Delft University/INDG/AltSpace/PA

Many experts, however, are sceptical about the concept, saying that the concept is “completely impractical”. Furthermore, claims have previously been made that the Hyperloop is too susceptible to disruption from a power outage, or even terrorist attacks, to be considered safe.

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