When the cartoon of The Jetsons emerged in 1962 it showed a vision of what the world would be like in the mid-21st century, with transportation through flying vehicles and capsules, with visits to the doctor through screens and with computers interacting with humans for the decision making.
Not all of that future has gone as expected, but some of it has come true. Remote medical consultations are something that was already beginning to flourish before the COVID19 pandemic, while assistants with artificial intelligence such as Siri and Cortana have been present on our computers for some years, not only to help us with daily tasks, but even to tell us a joke.
But what about transportation? Where are the flying cars that we can store in small places intended for briefcases? It seems that for this we will have to wait.
But it is not all bad news and traveling in small capsules as the members of the Jetsons family did is not something far off, indeed, that could happen before the end of this decade.
At least that’s the promise of Josh Giegel, CEO and co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop, a system that seeks to revolutionize transportation by moving people between cities in a matter of minutes, an objective that he affirms is not far from achieving.
“There are neither 10 nor 20 years to go. Cities can start incorporating it into their planning right now, ”the manager described in an interview with ..
“I can’t say who will be first, but in addition to the United States, we are also looking at places like India, Europe and the Middle East. We are probably thinking about a deadline of 2025-27 ”.
For Josh Giegel, his system will solve a point that many have not focused on, and that is that while automakers think about electric vehicles, medium and long-distance public transport, but with little travel time, has had little progress, because although Some would think that the bullet train is something new, the reality is that it is a technology that began operations in 1964 and has been evolving, but not to what the division of Richard Branson’s Virgin company proposes.
“It’s about moving massive numbers of people, at the speed of an airplane, giving them the opportunity to live where they want to live and work where they want to work. A hyperloop would move as many people and goods as a 30-lane highway. “
“Let’s take an example and see what it takes a person to cross Manhattan right now, maybe 40 minutes. You could go from New York to Washington DC in less time. You could go from LA to Vegas in 40 minutes”.
“What we are doing is similar to what the Spanish ships and airplanes did: reducing the time associated with distance.”
Currently, a trip between the city of California and that of Nevada takes 59 minutes by plane, but this does not count the waiting times associated with an airport for a distance of 432 kilometers that, on the road, are covered in almost five hours.
An example closer to us is that in your projections a trip from Mexico City to Los Angeles would only need two hours and 52 minutes. The trip from the country’s capital to Guadalajara would only require 37 minutes.
Giegel is clear that the current transport systems do not facilitate the desire of some people who want to live in an area, perhaps far from the big cities, but work in those cities, without having to invest hours of travel. He believes his system will change the way this happens.
“I have a two-year-old son and the way he will be able to live is unlike anything we can imagine.”
“If you look at the cities of the future, people will want to live in one area and work in others. We are already seeing it with the pandemic. My dream is to live near Yosemite and then work with my team in Los Angeles. A hyperloop would give you the ability to do both. “
How the hyperloop works
In simple words, it is about transporting people through a capsule that travels between one point and another through a tube, this to reduce crossings with roads or other trains and also avoid inclement weather.
“We draw almost all the air into the tube, which allows you to go at high speeds with very little energy consumption. We use magnetic levitation technology (similar to bullet train), so there is no friction, and everything is non-contact and smooth. With electromagnetic propulsion and between 20 and 30 passengers per capsule, we could move tens of thousands of passengers per hour ”, said the company executive.
The hyperloop can travel at 1,080 km / h, a figure that is three times faster than current high-speed trains.
Just on November 8, 2020, the company made its first test trip with two people manning the capsule called XP-2, a vehicle that when in real operation will be able to carry up to 30 passengers.
Although a distance was not traveled between two large cities, the first numbers were encouraging for the project leaders after two passengers covered 390 meters in 15 seconds, with the vehicle reaching an acceleration from 0 to 173 km / h in 6.4 seconds.
The figures alone may not be impressive given that there are cars that travel the quarter mile in less than 11 seconds, but there is one data that stands out. The hyperloop numbers include braking at the limits of the Nevada demo course, so its full acceleration has not yet been explored.
The hyperloop is not to replace airplanes, but it seeks to turn the dream of a design that began in a garage seven years ago into a means of transport that makes people’s lives easier.