Ever since SpaceX CEO Elon Musk proposed the idea of a hyperloop architecture in the summer of 2013, there has been a lot of interest in this mode of transportation that promises to run at over 1,000 km per hour — 10-15 times faster than traditional rail and at least twice or thrice faster than high-speed rail.
As the Maharashtra government has announced plans to create the first hyperloop transportation system in the world, this system could link central Pune with Mumbai in under 35 minutes. Currently, travelling this distance takes over 3.5 hours by road.
Maharashtra named Virgin Hyperloop One-DP World (VHO-DPW) consortium as the Original Project Proponent (OPP) for the Mumbai-Pune hyperloop project.
In this mode of transportation, passengers or cargo are loaded on to the hyperloop vehicle that accelerates gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube, says Virgin Hyperloop One, headquartered in Los Angeles, California.
Its vehicles are propelled using a linear electric motor, which is a straightened-out version of a conventional rotary motor.
A conventional electric motor has two primary parts –a stator (the part that stays still) and a rotor (the part that moves or rotates).
When voltage is applied to the stator it makes the rotor spin and do the work of, say, spinning a power drill.
A linear electric motor has the same two main parts. But in this case, the rotor does not rotate. Instead, it moves in a straight line along the length of the stator.
In the Virgin Hyperloop One system, the stators are mounted to the tube, the rotor is mounted to the pod, and the pod straddles the stators as it accelerates down the tube.
The vehicle floats above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag, Virgin Hyperloop One says in its website.
The fully autonomous systems will be built on columns or tunneled below ground to avoid dangerous grade crossings and wildlife, the company said.
Besides offering a faster mode of transportation at a time when our roads and airports are getting increasingly congested, there are other benefits of a hyperloop mode of transportation.
The impact of this system is likely to be less severe on the environment with no direct emissions or noise.
Virgin Hyperloop One has built a full-scale hyperloop test track and has completed hundreds of test runs to date.