The first passengers have successfully travelled in a hyperloop pod in the desert of Nevada.
The test was carried out by Virgin Hyperloop, one of a number of companies seeking to bring the technology to market.
“For the past few years, the Virgin Hyperloop team has been working on turning its ground-breaking technology into reality,” said Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.
“With today’s successful test, we have shown that this spirit of innovation will in fact change the way people everywhere live, work, and travel in the years to come.”
The testing campaign was overseen by the industry-recognised Independent Safety Assessor.
Having undergone a rigorous and exhaustive safety process, the newly-unveiled XP-2 vehicle demonstrates many of the safety-critical systems that will be found on a commercial hyperloop system and is equipped with a state-of-the-art control system that can detect off-nominal states and rapidly trigger appropriate emergency responses.
“I can’t tell you how often I get asked ‘is hyperloop safe?,’” said Jay Walder, chief executive of Virgin Hyperloop.
“With today’s passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question, demonstrating that not only can Virgin Hyperloop safely put a person in a pod in a vacuum environment, but that the company has a thoughtful approach to safety which has been validated by an independent third party.”
The occupants made their maiden voyage on the newly-unveiled XP-2 vehicle, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, which was custom-built with occupant safety and comfort in mind.
While the production vehicle will be larger and seat up to 28 passengers, this two-seater XP-2 vehicle was built to demonstrate that passengers can in fact safely travel in a hyperloop vehicle.
The announcement builds off of significant progress in Europe.
The European Commission’s directorate-general for mobility and transport (DGMOVE) has held numerous workshops over the past two years with hyperloop companies in conjunction with regulatory authorities and standards bodies – leading to the establishment of a baseline for the functional blocks of a hyperloop system and safety requirements.
The European Commission is now carrying out a nine-month study to develop a safety regulatory approach for Europe, the results of which will be used to develop the regulatory policy for hyperloop technologies.
Active discussions are also underway with several European regulatory authorities.
By combining an ultra-efficient electric motor, magnetic levitation, and a low-drag environment, hyperloop systems can carry more people than a subway, at airline speeds, and with zero direct emissions.