MOAPA, Nev. — Hyperloop technology, which promises to transport people and goods at speeds of up to 600 miles an hour, has long seemed too good to be true. But one company says it has cleared an important step toward commercializing it by moving two of its employees through a test system.
Virgin Hyperloop became the first company to conduct a human test of the technology on Sunday at its 500-meter test track in the desert north of Las Vegas. The two volunteers, wearing casual street clothes, were whisked in a pod that was levitated by magnets inside a vacuum tube to 107 m.p.h. in 6.25 seconds.
The riders sat in molded seats covered in white vegan leather, housed inside the all-white carbon fiber-clad pod.
While the G-forces on the pod were three times that of an airplane, “it was much smoother than I expected,” said Sara Luchian, 37, one of the test riders and the company’s director of passenger experience. And unlike an airplane, there were no lateral forces that would have caused the pod to sway, she said.
“It felt not that much different than accelerating in a sports car,” said Josh Giegel, 35, the company co-founder and the other volunteer rider.
“This is a step of historical significance,” said Jay Walder, the company’s chief executive, pointing to 20 months of planning. “I don’t think you can overstate it. This is a moonshot moment. I have no doubt this will change the world.”
Whether it becomes a giant leap for mankind is still unclear.
Virgin’s test might be as symbolically important as it is crucial to the technology’s ultimate success. While the pod traveled at a much slower speed than what proponents of hyperloops claim the technology is capable of, company officials described it as a safety milestone.
“The No. 1 question I get from investors is, ‘Is it safe enough to ride?’” said Mr. Giegel. “We’re everyday people, we’re not astronauts. This shows that it’s safe, and observers can take this back to their investors and interested municipalities.”Read the full article