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The Hyperloop (Fifth mode of transportation) | A big career opportunity for Engineers

Last Updated on April 17, 2023 by Admin

Today we all are in an age of astonishing progress in the field of computing with the internet having reformed the way information is exchanged on a global level. It seems like every day the electronic chips get smaller and the storage space gets larger.


One would think such changes would have brought about a new age of smart technology. However for the last so many years in many areas of life, things don’t seem to have changed all that much and transportation is a mournful example of this. The roads are still lined with cars, the skies dotted with airliners. The science fiction stories of decades past foresaw flying cars and teleporters, but the 21st century has had to settle for Seaways.

Dreams never die, however, and the fantasy of futuristic transportation is very much alive
right now as exemplified by a concept called the Hyperloop While it’s not quite as mind-shattering as a teleporter or as fun as a personal jetpack, the Hyperloop could revolutionize mass transit, cutting travel times on land and reducing environmental damage in the process.

What is the Hyperloop?

The Hyperloop is a concept proposed by billionaire inventor Elon Musk, CEO of the electric car company Tesla and aerospace firm SpaceX. It is a reaction to the California High-speed Rail system currently under development, a bullet train system that Musk feels is lackluster, as it will be one of the most expensive and slow-moving in the world. A one way trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles (about 400 miles, approx 644 km) on the Hyperloop is projected to take about 35 minutes.

Musk’s Hyperloop consists of two massive steel tubes stretching between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Pods carrying passengers would travel through the tubes at speeds topping out over 700 mph (1127 kmph). For propulsion, magnetic accelerators will be planted along the length of the tube, propelling the pods forward. The tubes would house a low pressure environment, surrounding the pod
with a cushion of air that permits the pod to move safely at such high speeds, like a puck gliding over an air hockey table.
Given the tight quarters in the tube, pressure buildup in front of the pod could be a problem. The tube needs a system to keep air from building up in this way. Musk’s design recommends an air compressor on the front of the pod that will move air from the front to the tail, keeping it aloft and preventing pressure building up due to air displacement. A one way trip on the Hyperloop is projected to take about 35 minutes (for comparison, traveling the same distance by car takes roughly six hours.)

Why the need?

Conventional means of transportation (road, water, air, and rail) tend to be some mix of expensive, slow, and environmentally harmful. Road travel is particularly problematic, given carbon emissions and the fluctuating price of oil. As the environmental dangers of energy consumption continue to worsen, mass transit will be crucial in the years to come.

Rail travel is relatively energy efficient and offers the most environmentally friendly option, but is too slow and expensive to be massively adopted. At distances less than 900 miles, supersonic travel is unfeasible, as most of the journey would be spent ascending and descending (the slowest parts of a flight.) Given these issues, the Hyperloop aims to make a cost-effective, high speed transportation system for use at moderate distances. As an example of the right type of distance, Musk uses the route from San Francisco to L.A. (a route the high-speed rail system will also cover). The Hyperloop tubes would have solar panels installed on the roof, allowing for a clean and self-powering system.
There are off-course drawbacks. Most notably, moving through a tube at such high speeds precludes large turns or changes in elevation. As a result, the system is optimal for straightforward trips across relatively level terrain. California is, of course, susceptible to earthquakes, and the Hyperloop design takes this into account. The tubes would be mounted on a series of pylons spread along the route, each pylon placed every 100 feet or so. The pylons will allow for slip due to thermal expansion and earthquakes, ensuring that the tubes will not be broken by any such movement.
Realistically, the most important problem in getting any project off the ground is money, doubly so when talking about a public work. Even if one can produce an impressive blueprint, there are still issues of public approval, legislation, regulations, and contractors to worry about. Fortunately, The Hyperloop would be a cost-saving measure, especially when measured against the corpulent rail project currently underway. Musk’s white paper for the Hyperloop estimates the total cost could be kept under six billion dollars. Meanwhile, phase one of the California high-speed rail project is expected to cost at least $68 billion, (approx.INR 6800 Crores INR)

Although Elon Musk postulated the idea, SpaceX is not developing a commercial Hyperloop of its own. Instead, it has been holding various competitions to encourage students and engineers to develop prototype pods. To facilitate this, SpaceX has built a one mile test track in California. The contest was a way for engineers and companies to get the ball rolling to make the Hyperloop system a reality.

 On January 30, 2016, the SpaceX Hyperloop design competition concluded. More than 100 prototype pod designs were submitted, and 27 teams have won the chance to test their designs on the SpaceX Hyperloop test track in June 2016. A team of grad students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) won Best Overall Design. According to the MIT team, the pod is lightweight and emphasizes speed and safety, including a fail-safe brake system. Whereas many Hyperloop designs
use air jets to levitate, the MIT design uses two arrays of neodymium magnets to keep the pod aloft. Additional magnets inside the pod keep it stable as it races along the track. The power of the prototype was impressive, though it’s still very far from a commercial product given it currently lacks
space for passengers or even cargo.
In January 2017, the long-running SpaceX Hyperloop competition wrapped up with “Competition
Weekend I,” in which completed pods raced on the test track. A team from Delft University in the Netherlands took the top prize.
Although this particular contest is over, the Hyperloop project is far from finished, as companies and governments around the world explore the concept. For its part, SpaceX will be holding another competition in the Summer of 2017, this one focused entirely on attaining the highest maximum speed.
There’s no guarantee that anything concrete will come out of the competition, though. The contest is a way for engineers and companies to exchange knowledge and maybe get the ball rolling to make the Hyperloop system a reality at some point down the line. Like a world’s fair expo, it’s a place for visions of
the future to become a little bit clearer.

Recent Developments:

While SpaceX’s contest was a good showcase for engineering students, the Hyperloop concept has also garnered interest from businessmen. Startups such as Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies) and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) are working on Hyperloop systems of their own, and what they lack in clever naming they make up for in ambition. Both companies are building their own test
tracks, and HTT has recently announced a partnership with Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum, an engineering firm specializing in vacuum technology, and Aecom, an international corporation providing technical project support. The companies will receive stock options in exchange for their involvement.
HTT’s partnership with Oerlikon and Aecom is a massive development. International, publicly traded companies have deemed the Hyperloop concept solid enough to invest in. They also bring with them much-needed experience: Oerlikon has been a leader in vacuum technology since the dawn of the 20th century, while Aecom has been involved in many high profile engineering projects such as the Cape
Town Stadium
. This partnership represents a tremendous vote of confidence in the Hyperloop, and brings much needed legitimacy to a project that had been, until recently, a pipe dream.
January 2016 proved to be a big month for Hyperloop progress. HTT applied for a permit to begin construction on a test track along the I-5 freeway in Quay Valley, California. Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, progenitor of the Hyperloop idea, partnered with Aecom to build its own test track in Hawthorne, California. With three test tracks currently in development, the Golden State is at the forefront of Hyperloop development.
In March 2016, HTT announced its intention to build a network of Hyperloop tracks connecting Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest, with Slovakia serving as a hub between the three.
In May 2016, Hyperloop One showed off its prototype system at a test track in Las Vegas.  Elsewhere in the world, other Hyperloop-esque projects appear to be springing up. In early 2017, the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI) announced plans for a supersonic train that will travel between Seoul and Busan. Like Hyperloop pods, this train will travel through low-pressure tubes, reaching estimated speeds of 620 mph.  It remains unclear whether commercial Hyperloop systems will ever be widely adopted. As
the global population swells and the environment declines, however, better mass transit systems will become essential. Leonard Bernstein once claimed that great endeavors require two things: “a plan, and not quite enough time.” The plan for the Hyperloop is there, but how much time do we have?

India Connection:

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT, the California-based start-up recently submitted a proposal to link the financial hub of Mumbai and the western India city of Pune—one that would cut travelling time to around 25 minutes from 3 hours on an Indian Railways commuter line. It is currently awaiting approval from Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government.

HTT’s vision of ticket pricing, or rather lack of it, could be a hit in Asia’s third largest economy. “Depending on the population density, we could have a business model that allows you to
make money without charging ticket prices. For example, we can sell excess energy to the grid as well as implement premium services, such as premium advertising,” Bibop Gresta, HTT chairman and chief operating officer, told CNBC Asia Speaking on the sidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Community conference in Kuala Lumpur, he said the concept could be implemented in India for certain time slots, if the project is approved.”Is a ticket still a viable way of monetizing users in the 21st century? Probably
not. We are looking to humanize transportation.”As the brainchild of Musk, who first announced the idea in 2012, it’s a concept straight out of science fiction and has been deemed the “fifth mode of transportation.” Unlike the others, HTT utilizes a magnetic technology that allows its capsules to levitate
and move. It is currently in negotiations for 20 projects across the world, including the U.S., Chile, Botswana, Egypt, the U.A.E, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Russia and Australia. HTT claims its technology is cheaper to build than regular high-speed trains, which Modi’s government has already been considering nation-wide. In 2017, Indian Railways is set to begin construction on a bullet train connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad. “This can be the biggest opportunity or the biggest disaster for India. they can either choose the wrong technology and throw the country into the 19th century or bring the country into the 22nd century,” Gresta exclaimed.
“If you can move people from city to city at 1,200 (745 miles per hour) to 1,300 kilometers per hour, you have a system that can reshape society,” he explained,suggesting that as distances shrink, economic productivity could increase astraffic disappears.UpgradingIndia’s creaky mass-transit systems is one ofModi’s top priorities.In lateNovember, an Indore-Patna express train swerved off the tracks and killed
around 146 people in what was deemed the worst train accident since 2010, ramping up pressure on Modi to invest in new infrastructure.
Because HTT’s track is electrified, its transport system consumes tiny amounts of energy,while conventional high-speed rails require a lot of energy that is usually subsidized by the state. HTT also employs a combination of renewable energies, including solar, wind, kinetic and for certain climates, geothermal. “Thiscombination allows us to produce 20 percent more energy than we consume. We arelike a giant power station that happens to transport people,” That’s analluring factor for an Indian government looking to reduce carbon emissions by33-35 percent within the next 13 years.
New materials are also being integrated into HTT’s designs, including cement that absorbs
carbon dioxide and produces oxygen, vertical gardens around pylons, and a system that absorbs dew from air and releases water to farmers. “We’re also looking to embed a desalinization system so you can pick up water from the sea and clean it. When you have a pipeline and solar panels, you already have desalinization; you just need heat, which we have plenty of to harvest in the system.” Everything about HTT seems disruptive to conventional practices, even its business structures. “This is a better model because it doesn’t need to play the capitalistic game,” hesaid. “There’s a radical reasoning behind this. It is about contesting the consumption model that is affecting everything.”
India Development:
Hyperloop India:
A step towards bringing Hyperloop in India.
Founded in 2015 by Sibesh Kar, a student of BITS Pilani, Team Hyperloop India is a uniquenon-profit think tank consisting of 60+ motivated student volunteers in thefields of engineering and business, interested in reinventing transportation inIndia. In January 2016, our team from BITS was the only fully-funded team from  India to make it to the SpaceX Hyperloop Design Weekend in College Station,Texas. Starting small in Pilani, Hyperloop India has grown to become the largest student-drivenmulti-disciplinary team of its kind, constituting of students and faculty from the top engineering and business schools of the country—namely all three campuses of BITS Pilani, Indian School of Business and IIM-Ahmedabad. We are consulting with transportation, logistics, infrastructure and data experts from organizations like RITES, NITI Aayog & DP World India.
As a primarily student collaboration, their plan is to leverage their performance in global incentive prize competitions to create a nationalistic competitive impulse to bring the Hyperloop to India. If you check the Hyperloop one website and browse through their career page you can find the current openings for the following profiles:

In the coming future there will a huge demand all over the globe for the Civil Construction, Mechanical,
Architecture, Structural, Computer & IT, Electrical & Electronics engineers when Hyperloop become the realty. So Stay focused on the future of transportation and grab the opportunity.


Credit: http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/hyperloop-news/


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