LA to NYC in 3 Hours? How the Hyperloop Could Be the Future of Travel

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With the second-most number of vehicles on the road, It’s hard to deny that America is a car-loving nation. But while the United States might have the largest road network in the world, other means of transportation are unfortunately not as well maintained. Case in point: the American commuter train network, which is old, congested, and unreliable when compared to those in other countries. Enter the Hyperloop, which could be the future of high-speed rail for not just the U.S., but the entire world as well.

What Is the Hyperloop?

The idea of a Hyperloop–a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train system–isn’t completely new. Its high-reaching goals, however, very much are. The brainchild of modern-day mad scientist Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla, the Hyperloop aims to take commuters from one place to another, but very, very quickly. At 760 miles per hour, in fact, which is faster than an airplane and as fast as the speed of sound.

The goals of the Hyperloop aren’t the only way it aims to set itself apart. A break from the past is also evident in the design and structure of the thing itself. Rather than sit on metal tracks, a Hyperloop pod–the equivalent of a train car–is pushed through a low-pressure tube, protected from the elements outside, almost like an above-ground subway system.

How It Stacks Up to Other Train Systems

In concept alone, the Hyperloop is unlike any other train system in the world. While some trains in Asia make use of maglev tech to carry their passengers at high-velocity rates, even the fastest train in the world, Japan’s bullet train, can carry its riders at a top speed of 375 mph. That’s just about half the speed that the Hyperloop plans to meet.

The Hyperloop’s awesome speed might be its selling point, but that’s not the only way it sets itself apart from other high-speed rail systems. Because the Hyperloop will be contained within a tube system, it will be impervious to weather, meaning less potential for damage and delays. As we understand now, it’ll run on its own track, so pods won’t be held up by other companies that share the line, unlike our current train infrastructure.

The Hyperloop’s Current Status

The Hyperloop is a huge project, so you can’t expect to see it this year or the next. As it currently stands, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is holding competitions to find the best pod design and building tracks to test those pods. While the project as a whole is still in its planning stages, Hyperloop executives have said that they expect that we’ll see the technology within the next five to ten years.

It might not be America that gets the Hyperloop first, though. Hyperloop One, a company based in the United Arab Emirates, has teamed up with the UAE government to build the world’s first Hyperloop track, which will run from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. The trip, which is 100 miles long, will take only 12 minutes. The company hopes to have the track up and running by 2020.

Obviously, the Hyperloop is an exciting concept, and it could mean a lot for the future of transportation. Not only would it be the most efficient transportation system, but it would also be one of the most environmentally-conscious ones, too. In any case, it seems that we won’t have to wait too long to see how the Hyperloop affects the world.

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