Hyperloop: What is the whole concept all about, Explained



On Wednesday, Elon Musk lead, Tesla did the first public test for the Hyperloop in the deserts of Nevada. Even if the test lasted just for a couple of minutes under the watchful eyes of wealthy investors from around the world, the founders were very confident that this is the beginning of a new era in the field of transportation. In this segment, we will be discussing the whole concept that is behind the creation of Hyperloop along with some general information that you should know.

First, we will be starting with the Hyperloop Transport Technologies.

When did it all start?

The whole concept was born when Elon Musk had published his white paper, that has now become famous across the world that had the concept of a hypothetical train which could levitate in a vacuum tube and reach speeds of up to 760mph (approx 1220kmph). The paper was published in the month of August and by October, the foundations of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) were laid down.

Who are the founders?

Like all other projects of Mr. Musk, this project also started as a crowd-funded initiative at Jumpstarter’s JumpStartFund. Later, the CEO of the organization Dirk Ahlborn also became CEO of HTT.

Are there any employees for the organization?

The answer to this will be, no, however, 520 people from different places of the world are working on this project with the promise that they will be getting equity.

Who are the notable partners for the project?

Engineering firm AECOM, Pittsburgh-based vacuum company Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum, and UCLA’s architecture school are some of the notable partners. The architecture school has assigned a whole semester of the total curriculum for the designing of the hyperloop passenger experience.

What are the various technological advantages that this project have?

Passive magnetic levitation is Inductrack’s idea, which makes use of a magnet configuration called a Halbach array. This concept of propulsion is also used in particle accelerators but has never been used for transportation. Now, you might be wondering, whether this is going to work or not. The answer to this is that it should definitely work as according to the calculations that were made by Port, these magnets have the ability to lift things that are 50 times heavier than their weight and provide a smooth ride.

Where is this project first going to be deployed?

Slovakia is going to be the first country to deploy this project. HTT has entered into a deal with the country that allows them to bring Hyperloop to several cities.

What do the experts have to say about this technology?

According to Stephen Granade, a physicist who was once the most vocal critic amongst  for the whole concept, “The system that HTT is using is really clever. There are a number of great things about this system. The first is that the levitation system doesn’t take any power. The car uses permanent magnets, not super-cooled superconducting magnets like Japan’s SCMaglev system uses. The track’s just got passive conductors embedded in it. Since the system doesn’t take power to levitate the car, it’s much easier to build larger versions of the system as needed.”

Next, we will move on to the Hyperloop One, the project which was tested recently.

When did it all start?

The project started in 2014 and was called Hyperloop Technologies, Inc. It was then rebranded to Hyperloop One this year. 


Shervin Pishevar and former Space X engineer Brogan BamBrogan were the founders of this company, later, Rob Lloyd who was a former president of sales at Cisco joined the firm in the last year.


Total employees are now at 160.


The project for building the test track received $37 million as funding. It also received $80 Million, recently from investors, one of the major one being France’s railway system SNCF.

Major Partners?

AECOM and Arup,  Amberg Group (Switzerland), Deutsche Bahn (Germany), and Systra (France) are some of the notable partners. Bjarke Ingels, a world renowned architect along with board members Jim Messina,former White House chief of staff and XPrize founder Peter Diamandis are also there. 

What a physicist says?

Granade was not too sure about the levitation technology that was used by Hyperloop One, however, he said, “Early on it looked like they were going to use air bearings. The Engineering.com article mentions that they were also investigating magnetic levitation systems. I’m betting they go in that direction as well. There are a lot of benefits to a passive maglev system over an air bearing one.” Though, after the video of the big test made recently, he said, “they’re testing the linear accelerator motors, but how are the other subsystems going? Where are they on the levitation subsystem?”

Finally, we conclude with the MIT Hyperloop, the new kid on the block.

When did it all start?

2015 was the starting year for this project. The team had won the Texas A&M and SpaceX sponsored competition for the vehicle design concepts.

Who are the founders?

The faculty advisors from the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics and Astronautics of the school are behind the project.

Number of employees?

As of now, there are no employees. A total of 28 students from the school make up the team.

Major investors?

Hyperloop is one of the notable investors, however, the complete list is quite long.

Who are the notable partners?

Bruce Montgomery, CEO of Magplane Technology, Inc., and Tracy Clark, vice president of technology for Magnemotio are some of the major advisors. 

What are the views of a physicist?

When asked to comment on the project, Granade said,  “A physicist in the 1980s named Klaus Halbach came up with the configuration to use in particle accelerators, but Halbach arrays are everywhere now, mostly stuck on refrigerators. Refrigerator magnets use a Halbach-array configuration for the same reason hyperloop does: because you get nearly twice the magnetic field than if you used a row of magnets all pointed in the same direction, and you have a side that has nearly no magnetic field.”

GIF source: mashable.com