The Future Transportation: Hyperloop alpha

People travel a lot for various purposes. In the early ages, they used to travel in search of food and shelter barefoot. Gradually they started using a different mode of transportation including sailing boats on sea and horse cart on the land. In this modern era, the purpose of travelling is countless and we often do it every moment. But when it comes to transportation we are stuck with motor cars on roads, boats and ships on the sea and jets and aircraft on the air. All the mentioned modes have their own merits and demerits. Travelling on land via buses and cars takes a long time and will get expensive as the distance goes on increasing and the train could offer cheap offerings for long distance but still takes a long time.  Aircraft takes us to the destination fast but is expensive. Similarly, big ships can be used mostly for cargo transportation. We select the mode of transportation in accordance with our own preferences but what if a new mode of transportation is added to the option? Yes, here we will talk about the new mode of transportation envisioned by Elon Musk. The basic idea is travelling in a capsule within a special tube known as Hyperloop.

Travelling inside a pod or capsule within a tube is not entirely a new concept. In 1799, inventor George Medhurst proposed an idea to move goods through cast-iron pipes using air pressure. In 1844, he built a railway station (for passenger carriages) in London that relied on pneumatics until 1847. Throughout the mid-1850s, several more pneumatic railways were built in Dublin, London, and Paris. The London Pneumatic Despatch system was meant to transport parcels, but it was large enough to carry people, too. To mark its opening, the Duke of Buckingham travelled through it in 1865. In the mid-1860s, South London constructed the Crystal Palace atmospheric railway, which ran through a park. A fan, which measured 22 feet in diameter, propelled the train. On return journeys, the fan’s blades reversed, sucking the carriage backwards. The Beach Pneumatic Transit, which operated in Manhattan from 1870 to 1873, was New York City’s earliest subway predecessor. Designed by Alfred Ely Beach, it had one stop and a one-car shuttle that used compressed air to move riders. By the end of the 19th century, most major cities used pneumatic tube systems to transport mail and other messages. Some still exist today at banks, hospitals, and factories. However, the real inspiration for Musk might have come from a 1972 paper written by a physicist for the Rand Corporation.


Figure: Hyperloop competition tube design

Hyperloop is a new land transportation system which carries passengers in a specially designed capsule. The capsule travels within a vacuum tube system that connects cities far away. The main difference from a traditional railway system is that the partial-vacuum tube system offers very low air resistance to the pods so that it travels at a very high speed (about 700 miles or 1270 km/hr). As we all know an aircraft is most efficient at high altitudes due to low air resistance. In a similar way, the partial vacuum environment can help the pods gain high speed and high efficiency. But more complication comes if we try to create a full vacuum system. Since the capsule/pods have a big propeller system so we cannot use it in a vacuum. Also, take the partial vacuum system will help in the station for loading and unloading. The tubes within which the pods travel aircraft with solar power on their top which is not only enough to run all the pods but also be able to generate extra energy. A number of routes with Aircraft for this transportation in USA, India, Dubai, Russia and many big cities all over the world. Musk is too busy with his SpaceX, Tesla and all other companies he is handling. Hyperloop alpha was an open idea for all. Since the project is open and a competition was held where five universities were selected, and a prototype competition has already been held. We can assume this future transportation to arrive very soon.

Hyperloop is not only faster than any land transportation system it is also self-sustaining and relies on a renewable source of energy. The system is earthquake resistance. Once completed it is even cheaper than any other transportation system. Being able to travel faster is the dream of every person. We don’t think we can teleport from one place to other very soon but for us, hyperloop can be the beginning. There are many companies working on Hyperloop project but the soonest we can get to travel in one of these pods is 2021.

By: Utsav Siwakoti

References

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperloop

2.https://www.businessinsider.com/history-hyperloop-pneumatic-tubes-as-transportation-2017-8

3.https://bigthink.com/endless-innovation/is-the-hyperloop-the-future-of-transportation

4.https://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/hyperloop_alpha-20130812.pdf

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