Hyperloop One, the vacuum-tube linear motor propelled transport system, has achieved a successful test of all its sub-systems in a simplified test in Nevada. Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport and Manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said in response to test that safety systems are critical to technology ever being viable: “This completion of this first trial from Hyperloop One must be very exciting for the team working on the project.
“However, as an engineer there still seems to be some gaps in the information regarding the risks and safety of the system itself. There remains a challenge of cost both in terms of design, production and maintainability with figures initially quoted from the team already escalating.
“Building a sophisticated, evacuated tube system that is elevated on columns and aligned to a standard suitable for 700mph operation will definitely be a challenge.
“As the distance of the trials increase there will be many engineering problems to solve including that of managing track alignment. In the UK we would not be able to use any existing transport corridors at these speeds due to their lateral curvature. In addition travelling at those speeds means that any fault in the system would mean everyone on board would die - just as you would at 60,000m if you were rapidly decompressed. The safety systems will be critical to this technology ever being viable.
“Whilst this was a successful first trial the speeds were still relatively low and so it will be interesting to watch the development of this programme.”