The world’s first full-scale Hyperloop capsule, which promises to carry passengers at speeds of 700mph, has been unveiled in Spain. The slick 105-foot long prototype, named Quintero One, was revealed on Tuesday by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) at its facilities in Puerto de Santa Maria.The firm says passengers should think of it an “airplane without wings”. It weighs 5 tonnes and can hold 30 to 40 passengers at a time. The exterior is made up of carbon fiber composites that Hyperloop TT claims will provide passengers adequate if anything hits the capsule’s exterior.
Hyperloop technology has been in development for six years. Engineers envision a system that uses magnet-powered passenger capsules in a vacuum tube to accelerate travellers to rapid speeds, drastically cutting travel times. The idea for the transport system originated from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk after he was stuck in traffic on the way to a technology conference in 2012. He then released the idea publicly, allowing businesses to attempt to build the technology.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, led by Dirk Ahlborn, was one of the first companies to form following Musk’s tweet. The firm currently has 800 engineers working on the technology and has teamed up with companies such as vacuum maker Leybold and Spanish technology firm Airtificial to make it a reality. “The creation of this capsule represents over a year long journey of the best expertise in design, engineering, and the development of cutting edge materials,” said Dirk Ahlborn, HTT co-founder and CEO.
“In just five years we have solved and improved upon all of the technology needed for Hyperloop with our new levitation system, vacuum pumps, batteries, and smart composites”.Quintero One will now be sent to Toulouse, France for “additional assembly and integration” ahead of trials on a test track. “In 2019, this capsule will be fully optimised and ready for passengers,” said Bibop Gresta, chairman and co-founder of HyperloopTT. “Since we have taken major steps in solving government regulations with our safety certification guidelines and insurance frameworks, we are now closer than ever to bringing Hyperloop to the world.”
HyperloopTT is aiming to have Quintero One on commercial tracks in China and Abu Dhabi in the next couple of years. Last month architects and engineers unveiled their grand vision of a Hyperloop transport system that could one day connect Amsterdam to Frankfurt. The proposed route will stretch 280 miles (450km) from Schiphol Airport to the German city, allowing people to travel between the two in just 50 minutes. This compares to the four hours it currently takes by train.