13 November 2020
The American company Virgin Hyperloop says the high-speed transportation system it is developing has passed its first test with passengers.
The company said the successful test was carried out on November 8 at its 500-meter DevLoop test area in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Hyperloop system is based on a technology called magnetic levitation. It uses magnetic fields to create a floating effect for a transportation vehicle and push it forward.
Some high-speed trains also use this technology. But unlike trains, Hyperloop is designed to operate within pressurized tubes. It uses electric propulsion to move vehicles, called pods, through the tubes at high speeds.
The recent test involved two members of Virgin Hyperloop's leadership team. The pod carrying them reached speeds of up to 172 kilometers an hour, the company said.
Sara Luchian, the company's Director of Passenger Experience, was one of the passengers. Luchian told the BBC she felt the trip was "exhilarating - both psychologically and physically."
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem is the chairman of Virgin Hyperloop. "I had the true pleasure of seeing history made before my very eyes," he said in a statement, after watching the test. Bin Sulayem added that he felt he had witnessed "the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years come to life."
Hyperloop says it has already run over 400 tests without passengers at its Nevada site. But the company said the latest test shows that it had successfully developed the technology into a safe transportation system.
Jay Walder is the CEO of Virgin Hyperloop. "I can't tell you how often I get asked ‘is Hyperloop safe?,'" he said. "With today's passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question."
A two-person car was specially developed for the test. Virgin Hyperloop says the actual production vehicle, when completed, will carry up to 28 passengers.
Los Angeles-based Hyperloop envisions a future in which its floating pods would carry passengers and cargo at speeds of up to 966 kilometers an hour.
The system offers near silent travel and will release no carbon emissions. The company says the pods could complete a trip between New York and Washington, D.C. in just 30 minutes. That would be twice as fast as a jet flight and four times faster than a high-speed train.
The test comes a month after it was reported that Virgin Hyperloop plans to build a $500 million certification and testing center in West Virginia.
The company has said it is working to get a safety certification by the year 2025 and aims to launch transportation services by 2030.
Virgin Hyperloop has raised more than $400 million, largely from Virgin Group chief Richard Branson and the port operations company DP World, which is owned by the Dubai government. Virgin is one of several companies working to develop the technology.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Virgin Hyperloop. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
levitation – n. making something rise into the air
propulsion – n. the force produced by a system for moving, or propelling, a vehicle or other object
exhilarating – adj. making you feel very excited and happy
mode – n. a way of doing something
CEO – n. abbreviation for chief executive officer: the person with the most important job in a company
envision – v. to imagine something happening
cargo – n. goods that are carried in a vehicle
emission – n. the act of producing or sending out something (such as energy or gas) from a source
certification – n. the process of earning an official document