Hyperloop travel has been a pipe dream (pun intended) ever since Elon Musk proposed the travel alternative in a whitepaper in 2013. Imagine the vacuum tubes at a bank, only with people in them traveling hundreds of miles per hour. Now in the biggest step forward for the idea yet, Virgin Hyperloop just completed a test launch with actual human passengers in the pod.
Naturally, Virgin Hyperloop’s test was a modest first step. While the proposed idea is to shuttle humans from point A to point B at over 700 miles per hour, this attempt didn’t reach anywhere that speed.
That’s partly because Virgin Hyperloop’s test track is currently a mere 500 meters, not long enough to safely reach those speeds and then slow down. So instead, the crewed capsule ran a “mere” 107 miles per hour.
It’s still a huge step forward for the concept, though, that’s mostly seen stagnation since Elon Musk unveiled the idea seven years ago. The pod Virgin Hyperloop used mirrored what the company intends to use for commercial trips in nearly every way. One of the few modifications made was adding a five-point harness system, similar to those used by race cars.
The two passengers, company co-founder Josh Giegel and head of Passenger Experience Sara Luchian, went through extensive training and took a tube tour to see various exit points before the test. While today’s pod holds just two passengers, the company promises future iterations that can hold as many 28 people.
But there’s still plenty of questions to answer, like the feasibility of building the extensive tracks necessary and safety concerns. Moving people at such incredible speeds comes with risks that will need to be addressed before the hyperloop can become a reality to the masses.