Figuring Out the Hyperloop Hype
The idea of Hyperloop has been an exciting topic for everyone ever since Elon Musk first published the idea, back in August 2013. Since then, multiple companies have been formed and begun researching and building physical prototypes. Keeping up with whose done what can be pretty confusing since there are about a gazillion reports every time one of those companies does (pretty much) anything.
The first thing you need to know is which company is doing what. There are 3 major companies that focus on building hyperloop technologies to date:
Hyperloop One (formerly known as Hyperloop Technologies, Inc.)
Image Credit: Tech Insider
HTT was the first company of the three, incorporated in October 2013, just months after Elon Musk published his white paper. Pledging to make Musk's proposal a reality, the project began as a crowdsourced effort, and currently works with many partners including engineering firm AECOM and Pittsburgh-based vacuum company Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum. UCLA’s architecture school has also partnered with HTT and devoted an entire semester of its curriculum to designing the passenger experience of the hyperloop.
The biggest news this week for HTT was the licensing announcement of the technology known as Inductrack. The technology was developed and patented by Richard F. Post, who passed away last year; HTT now owns exclusive rights to all the elements of this technology which includes track design, conductors, and various configurations.
Previously known as Hyperloop Technologies, Inc., Hyperloop One was founded in 2014 by Shervin Pishevar and Brogan BamBrogan, a former Space X engineer. Hyperloop One currently partners with AECOM and Arup (both global engineering firms), as well as transportation and tunneling partners from Amberg Group (Switzerland), Deutsche Bahn (Germany), and Systra (France).
In 2015, Hyperloop One announced it would focus on cargo first, people second, which is a much easier proposition. Hyperloop One is the company that's been causing the most buzz this week. Yes, they are the ones that made its first full-scale, open-air test, which you've most likely seen through the video just below.
MIT Hyperloop was the team that won the Texas A&M and Space X sponsored Prototye Design Competition earlier this year, with a winning concept vehicle design for the Hyperloop. Started just last year in 2015, the team of 28 MIT students, will be testing its designed pods on Space X's test track this summer. Runners-up from the competition are known to be building pods to test on the track as well.
It’s just a pod design concept so far, but the MIT team is also using Halbach-array magnets to float its car, which has lots of benefits. - Stephen Granade, a physicist very involved with the study of Hyperloop technology.
In 2015, HTT filed a permit to build its 5-mile prototype in Quay Valley. While this test track is impressive and definitely useful in assisting the technological development, we must also consider the bigger concerns behind the concept: land rights and every other bureaucratic obstacle that goes along with building enormous infrastructure projects. As exciting as all this news on the technological advancement, these issues with land and bureaucracy are ones that need to be dealt with, before hyperloop is a viable solution for NA populations as a whole. Before then, we'll probably be seeing it in the European countries first, where government cooperation and support have already been discussed and agreed upon.