(Credit: Mayor of LA/Twitter)
One of two start-ups aiming to commercialise hyperloop technology – a future transport mode conceived by Elon Musk – has successfully tested its propulsion system and secured US$80 million ($108 million) in additional funding.
Hyperloop One released video of its first propulsion open-air test at a desert site in North Las Vegas, which was not live-streamed but was witnessed firsthand by a large press contingent.
A hyperloop – as imagined by Musk – would consist of capsules for people or cargo that travel at hypersonic speeds through a “continuous steel tube maintained at a partial vacuum”.
The open-air test by Hyperloop One was of one element of the technology needed to make this future mode of transport a reality.
It focused on the efficacy of the propulsion motor technology that Hyperloop One hopes to use, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
“A roughly 10-foot sled containing the propulsion motor, but no passengers, lurched forward—a sign that the engine was starting,” the paper said.
“It zoomed by at 116 miles an hour (187 km an hour) and then drove into a pool of sand designed to stop it, creating a giant spray of dust. The company hasn’t yet built brakes for the contraption.”
A more complete test is scheduled to occur sometime later this year, which should be capable of speeds closer to that which the technology aims to achieve.
While the technology took a major leap forward today, it was almost overshadowed by the interest from existing transportation companies which moved to more closely align themselves with Hyperloop One.
Companies including Aecom, Arup, Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting, KPMG and Systra “joined forces with Hyperloop One to develop the future of transportation”, the start-up said.
Others including the French national railway operator SNCF and GE Ventures participated in a Series B funding round, taking a direct financial interest in the technology’s evolution.
Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd said the companies would help “make hyperloop a reality worldwide”.
“We will work alongside these world-class partners to redefine the future of transportation, providing a more immediate, safe, efficient and sustainable high-speed backbone for the movement of people and things,” Lloyd said.
At present, Hyperloop One is exploring applications for its technology for the transportation of both people and freight.
Its tie-up with engineering giant Aecom will support “a feasibility study conducted by Arcturan Sustainable Cargo to determine how Hyperloop can improve productivity at the Ports of Long Beach (California) and Los Angeles by increasing efficiency and reducing urban traffic and omissions.”
Congrats to LA based #Hyperloop One on a successful tech test this AM! https://t.co/UMaDRx6Wf4 #TheFutureIsHappening pic.twitter.com/9YrQD6rmjJ
— Mayor of Los Angeles (@MayorOfLA) May 11, 2016
Separately, it is working with another engineering giant Arup “to redefine passenger travel”.
“Arup's leading experience designing and engineering tunnels and passenger infrastructure will shape how Hyperloop One creates a high-speed, tunnel-based transportation backbone,” Hyperloop One said.
“Arup has led the way on some of the most complex tunnelling and new station projects, including London Crossrail's 42km of new tunnels, running 40 metres under the city.
“Our partnership's initial focus will be to evaluate, develop and scope Hyperloop opportunities in specific geographic regions.”
Other private sector partnerships revealed today will be used to conduct “feasibility studies to examine the economic and social benefits of hyperloop routes in Finland and Sweden”, and for the technology to be applied to a planned underground cargo transportation network in Switzerland.
“Swiss-based Cargo Sous Terrain is developing a planned underground logistics system and is working with Hyperloop One to develop the future method of how packages will be transported throughout Switzerland,” the start-up said.