Is this our transportation future?

Virgin Hyperloop

Virgin Hyperloop, one of many companies tackling Elon Musk’s open-source idea for sustainable, high-speed travel, has made history. On Monday, the company said it boarded the first human passengers to ride in a Hyperloop pod at one of its test tracks as the firm works towards a fully functioning system of Hyperloops for the future.

The first two passengers were Josh Giegel, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, and Sara Luchian, director of passenger experience. No full Hyperloop system exists today, but the two rode a pad at the company’s test track in Las Vegas, which consists of just over a quarter mile of track. The company said it ran over 400 unmanned tests in preparation to ensure the low-pressure tube, which uses magnets to partially generate propulsion, is safe.

Much will change for the production pods and system, but the milestone came with a two-person pod version of Virgin Hyperloop’s XP-2 pod vehicle. In the future, the passenger pod will hold space for up to 28 passengers. Plans for cargo pods are also part of the company’s roadmap. The most important facet of today’s test is the fact humans can travel safely in the pods at very high speeds. The company aims to clock speeds over 500 mph one day, though so far it’s only managed 240 mph. The final speeds will help passengers move from, say, Los Angeles to San Francisco in under 45 minutes, compared to 90 minutes by plane.

It’s full speed ahead for Virgin Hyperloop from here on out. The company recently announced a new certification center in West Virginia, which is getting a $500 million investment for a new test track. Construction will start in 2022 and the company hopes to have full certification for the transportation method in 2025. Public passengers could start boarding the high-speed pods by the end of this decade.

Now playing: Watch this: See a full-scale Hyperloop test track

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