Virgin Hyperloop One, a company working to develop the hyperloop transport system, has set a new speed record for its hyperloop pod. It traveled an incredible 240 miles per hour. The previous record holder was SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who set a speed record of 220mph.
For the uninitiated, a hyperloop is a proposed means of transportation that involves propelling a capsule filled with people and/or cargo through a partial-vacuum tube.
Take note that this is the fastest publicly released test, but it’s not necessarily the fastest in the world. There may be other organizations who are keeping their test results under wraps.
How it beat the record
Virgin Hyperloop One outperformed Musk’s speed record thanks to the following:
- A vacuum that can lower air pressures to the level seen 200,000 feet above sea level;
- Magnetic levitation that can get rid of friction between the pod and the track.
With these two technologies, the company managed to squeeze out an additional 20mph.
Even with this record, the technology behind still has a long way to go. The pods and tracks are still expensive to build, and the hyperloop’s top speeds are still not nearly fast enough.
To give you a bit of perspective, Japan’s bullet trains can reach speeds of 375mph, and that’s at standard air pressures.
This only means there’s still plenty of ground to cover before we ever ride an actual commercial model, much less have it outrun a bullet train. We don’t even know if the tech is worth the expense.