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Hyperloop One Announces Record Speed but Doesn’t Best Aérotrain

Posted on August 16th, 2017 by in New Materials & Applications

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By Hyperloop One [Content on YouTube], via YouTube

Inventing a new form of transportation is hard to do, even if it’s been seemingly done before. While Hyperloop One is not the first company to attempt commercialization of a hovertrain, their achievement is not in their vehicle’s announced top speed, but in the propulsion system used to get there.

Last week, Los Angeles, CA based Hyperloop One announced successful completion of a Phase 2 feasibility test of their XP-1 vehicle. Clocking in at 192 mph – decidedly shy of the 267 mph record set by Jean Bertin’s Aérotrain I80 HV in 1974 – the new vehicle’s top speed appears unimpressive. Arriving at this speed however, the engineers and scientists at Hyperloop One did achieve something unique: controlled propulsion and levitation of a vehicle in a vacuum environment. As the company puts it, their “Kitty Hawk moment” had arrived.

Unlike earlier incarnations of hovertrains or magnetic levitation (maglev) trains, the “motor” of the XP-1 utilizes a linear stator system laid in the track while the moving rotor is on the pod, propelling it magnetically as it moves over the stator and is lifted off the track. The XP-1 also operates within a vacuum to reduce drag and minimize electrical requirements while enabling theoretical speeds of up to 700 mph. The following animation provides additional detail on how the new transportation system is intended to work

Although only lasting a few seconds, the team at Hyperloop One should be rightfully proud of their technological accomplishment and excited at the prospects of what comes next. By carefully studying and learning from each attempt, two bicycle shop owners in 1903 extended a 3 second trial of “only partial success” into the 59 seconds proving controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft was possible. The commercial aviation industry was born.

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All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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