Are we there yet? U.S. company says pressurized tube travel is coming soon

A company that has been busy shooting people through the Nevada desert in pressurized steel tubes at break-neck speeds says it is getting ready to introduce the public to what it says is the future of transportation technology.

Virgin Hyperloop One is testing the first hyperloop system in the world, which is a vacuum tube that can carry pods with up to 28 passengers faster than traditional trains. The mode of travel uses magnetic levitation technology, meaning the pods hover above the steel tube, and test runs have seen passengers move at over 380 kilometres an hour.

Diana Zhou, director of project strategy for the company, says there is already interest from governments and regional planning groups around the world to jump on the hyperloop bandwagon.

Zhou told The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn that construction on a 120-kilometre tube between the Indian cities Mumbai and Pune could begin in the state of Maharashtra as early as 2020.

"It's really the only way to move people faster, safer, in a more environmentally-friendly way than we have today," said Zhou.

 

She told Quinn levitation technology reduces track maintenance costs because there is "no friction, no aerodynamic drag," and a controlled operating system means there is no need for drivers, which Zhou says reduces the risk of human error. According to Zhou, the transport mode runs on electricity and requires less infrastructure building than other forms of rapid transit, which she says means less impact on the environment. 

Zhou said the company first tested its prototype just north of Las Vegas in May 2017 and has been "refining and optimizing for commercial deployment" since then.

The technology is here much sooner than you think," said Zhou.

To hear the complete interview with Diana Zhou on The Early Edition, click on the audio link below: