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Virgin's Hyperloop has just made its first passenger journey. Here's what happened

Virgin Hyperloop transport technology innovation

Virgin Hyperloop executives Josh Giegel, its Chief Technology Officer, and Sara Luchian, Director of Passenger Experience. Image: VIRGIN HYPERLOOP/Handout via REUTERS

Kate Duffy
Reporter, Business Insider
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This article is part of: Pioneers of Change Summit
  • The Virgin Hyperloop has transported passengers on its high-speed pod system for the first time.
  • The floating pod reached speeds of 107 mph and travelled 500 metres in just 15 seconds at Virgin's test track in the Nevada desert.
  • Virgin Hyperloop's executives, Josh Giegel and Sara Luchian, were the first people to travel in the two-seater pod, called Pegasus.
  • Virgin said its experimental pod is very different to its plans for the finished pod, which aims to seat up to 28 passengers.

Virgin Hyperloop on Sunday successfully tested human travel in its high-speed levitating transport system for the first time ever.

The hyperloop pod transported two passengers — two of the company's executives — in a nearly airless tube, reaching speeds of 107 mph (160 km/h) in 6.25 seconds.

The pod took 15 seconds to travel down Virgin's DevLoop 500-metre test track in the desert outside Las Vegas, Nevada, where the company has previously run more than 400 tests without passengers.

The futuristic transportation uses magnetic levitation to lift the pod above the track and push it forward in a vacuum tube.

A trip between New York and Washington in the final version of the hyperloop pod as planned would last just 30 minutes — twice as fast as a commercial jet flight and four times faster than a high-speed train, according to Reuters.

Josh Giegel, Virgin Hyperloop's chief technology officer and co-founder, and Sara Luchian, head of passenger experience, sat in the two-seater Experimental-Pod-2 (XP-2), which had seat belts, leather seats, and small windows.

 Virgin Hyperloop technology cutting edge fast new tech speed pod trip journey transit transport train tram futuristic
Virgin Hyperloop has chosen West Virginia as the site of its sprawling new test facility. Image: Virgin Hyperloop

Giegel said the journey "felt not that much different than accelerating in a sports car," whilst Luchian said "it was much smoother than I expected," per the New York Times.

In a statement, Virgin said: "While the production vehicle will be larger and seat up to 28 passengers, this two-seater XP-2 vehicle was built to demonstrate that passengers can in fact safely travel in a hyperloop vehicle."

Virgin Hyperloop stems from Tesla CEO Elon Musk's concept of high-speed passenger pod transport, which he first proposed in 2013. Musk has gone on to create The Boring Company, which will dig tunnels for his proposed "Loop" and "Hyperloop" transit systems.

Virgin Hyperloop was founded as Hyperloop Technologies in 2014, until Richard Branson joined the board of directors in 2017, and the company changed its name. It was also previously called Hyperloop One.

Last month, the company announced that it would build a $500 million facility in West Virginia to test its super high-speed travel system.

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May 21, 2024

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