On May 11, 2016, Hyperloop One, a project started by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, held its first full-scale live demo. Hyperloop technology relies on pressurized capsules that make use of linear induction motors and air compressors to drive transportation pods on cushions of air.
The idea for evacuated tube technology is actually more than 100 years old. In 1812, British engineer George Medhurst suggested a technology for transporting passengers and goods through vacuum tubes using air propulsion, and the Crystal Palace pneumatic transit was a system that operated for over a year using a steam engine and large fans in 1864. The closest predecessor to today’s Hyperloop concept was a vacuum train described by Robert Goddard in 1910, which shares many similarities to Musk’s Hyperloop.
The current Hyperloop initiative began in 2012, when Musk mentioned a ‘fifth mode of transport’ in which he envisioned a loop that could eventually reach hypersonic speeds. By 2013, volunteer engineers from SpaceX and Tesla were working on the project. In 2015, Musk announced construction of a test track possibly located in Texas that would be 5 miles long and allow for tests by private teams and universities.
This week, a Hyperloop demonstration was presented in Nevada, where a device zipped along the test track at 116 MPH in 1.1 seconds. If you blink, you might miss it!
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