The Hyperloop could easily become the next big thing after bullet trains. It’s a tube-based transportation system, in which pressurized passenger pods are accelerated through reduced-pressure tubes, which enables them to develop speeds as high as 760 miles per hour.
One of the Hyperloop design’s advantages is that the system is self-sufficient because of solar panels placed along the track that produce enough energy to run it. It is also earthquake-resistant, thanks to the use of pylons that carry the weight of the construction and provide the stability.
The project was first proposed by Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and co-founder of Tesla Motors Inc. . The system was touted to be a lower-cost alternative to a high-speed-train service between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
If you follow my column, you have probably noticed that I’ve closely followed the Hyperloop development since June 2015. At that time there were many unknown factors about the project, both bureaucratic and technical, that needed to be taken into account. While resolving technical issues was just a matter of time, crossing the red-tape sea in the U.S. forced one of the companies competing to make the Hyperloop a reality — Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, or HTT — to consider building their futuristic transportation pod in Slovakia, at the center of Europe.
Just a few weeks ago, HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn announced that his company has reached an agreement with the Slovakian government. Their plan is to establish the Hyperloop transportation route from Vienna to Bratislava, Slovakia, and from Bratislava to Budapest, Hungary.
It normally takes about eight hours to travel from Košice, Slovakia, to Vienna to Budapest. But it’s only 43 minutes with the Hyperloop.
“Slovakia is a technological leader in the automotive, material science and energy industries, many of the areas that are integral to the Hyperloop system,” Ahlborn said in a press release. “With our project in Quay Valley, this agreement with Slovakia, and future developments with other regions of the world, HTT truly has become a global movement.”
The company’s suggestion has been met with enthusiasm from Slovak Republic officials:
“Hyperloop in Europe would cut distances substantially and network cities in unprecedented ways. A transportation system of this kind would redefine the concept of commuting and boost cross-border cooperation in Europe,” said Vazil Hudak, Slovakia’s economic minister, said in a statement. “The expansion of Hyperloop will lead to an increased demand for the creation of new innovation hubs, in Slovakia and all over Europe.”
However, before we can look forward to backpacking across Central Europe and getting back home by dinner, significant financial hurdles need to be overcome, more specifically the cost, which is somewhere between $200 million and $300 million. If everything goes according to plan, the project should be finished by 2020, Wired reports.
In an interview with Vice, HTT Chief Operating Officer Bibop G. Gresta said the initial feasibility study showed that the Hyperloop pod could transport up to 10 million people a year. The biggest challenges, he said, are politics and regulation.
Do you think the Hyperloop will be embraced as a new modern transportation system? If not, why not? Please let me know in the comment section below.
Written by Jurica Dujmovic of MarketWatch