Virgin Hyperloop One tested a new prototype of its tube pod transport system this week at their test track in the Movaje desert. The test used the “Vision 2030 Hyperloop Pod” and was performed for the Crown Prince and Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Salman bin Abdulaziz, a potential customer, seems positive about using the technology in Saudi Arabia as a part of his $500 billion “Vision 2030” plan. “Hyperloop is the catalyst to enable all 4th generation technologies to flourish in the Kingdom while creating a vibrant society and thriving economy through visionary cities and high-tech clusters,” he said in a statement.
Virgin Hyperloop One claims their finished product will be two to three times faster than high-speed rail. They provided some example times between destinations in Saudi Arabia:
Traveling from Riyadh to Jeddah would take 76 minutes (currently over 10 hours) utilizing the land bridge for both passenger and freight movement, positioning KSA as the gateway to 3 continents. Traveling from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi would take 48 minutes (currently over 8.5 hours).
In December the Hyperloop broke its previous record by hitting 240 mph at the Nevada test track. The final product, expected by 2021, will hit 670 mph. Hyperloop pods float within a fully enclosed tube using magnetic levitation. It’s virtually silent and requires significantly less space than high-speed rail. The company says all you would hear as the pod passes by is a “big woosh.”
The pod accelerates gradually through the tube’s low-pressure environment, with no turbulence and G-forces similar to a 747 take off.
The Hyperloop website estimates potential travel times of 30 min from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
But how much will it cost? Virgin says two-thirds the cost of high-speed rail. If the Prince follows through, the world will be watching Saudi Arabia to see if Hyperloop One is the future of transportation.