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Future of transport

Is this the future of travel? First hyperloop passenger capsule unveiled

Technology envisages moving passengers in capsules at speeds of more than 1,200km/h through low-pressure tubes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 12:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 October, 2018, 10:08pm

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has unveiled its first full-scale passenger capsule, offering the world a peek at the future of travel.

The capsule, 32 metres long (105 feet) and weighing five tonnes, was shown in Spain and will be moved to Toulouse, France, for additional assembly before it’s used on one of the first commercial tracks, the California-based start-up, known as HyperloopTT, said in a statement.

Named the Quintero One, the product is made almost entirely out of composite material.

Hyperloop is a technology that gained popularity after billionaire Elon Musk touted it in 2013, prompting several companies to join the race to build a high-speed transport system.

It envisages moving passengers in capsules at speeds of more than 1,200km/h (750mph) through low-pressure tubes, to reduce friction.

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The technology will be able to propel trains faster than existing methods such as the Maglev, which uses a levitation technology to lift the train cars above a track to eliminate surface drag.

The Los Angeles area is emerging as a hyperloop centre, home to competitors Arrivo and Virgin Hyperloop One. Musk’s Boring Co. also has its base there.

Musk, who also runs Tesla Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., first unveiled his idea for a hyperloop – a tube-based system to move people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour – in a 57-page white paper in 2013 because he was disappointed with California’s plans for a high-speed rail system.

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In July, HyperloopTT set up a joint venture to build a test system in a mountainous southwest province in China.

Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One held discussions in India, aiming to offer passengers in the futuristic technology fares that are cheaper than local airlines.

In February, Branson signed a preliminary agreement in Mumbai for a broad hyperloop framework and mooted a Mumbai-Pune system that would shrink travel time to 25 minutes and save about three hours.