Virgin Hyperloop wants to build a ‘bullet train’ that uses special tunnels to surpass 1,000 km/h; watch | Innovation

Imagine traveling from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro in just 29 minutes. The American company Virgin Hyperloop wants to allow travel at such speed through its transport system, which had a new concept presented to the public.

The company works on a version of Hyperloop, a bullet-train-like system which relies on a modified tunnel to achieve high speeds. The projection of less than half an hour for the Rio-SP stretch can be made on the company’s website, which allows simulating trips between several cities.

Several companies have already disclosed projects with this proposal, including businessman Elon Musk, who presented the first concept in 2013. However, none of them is fully operational.

Virgin Hyperloop was created in 2014 as Hyperloop Technologies. It adopted its current name in 2020, three years after receiving the company’s first investments from billionaire Richard Branson – the same one who traveled into space with a rocket from his other company.

In the case of Virgin Hyperloop, the expectation is that the model will be able to reach a maximum speed of 1,078 km/h. The mark would be achieved through capsules that travel through tunnels.

The capsules would function as train cars and would be capable of carrying up to 28 passengers. They could also be used to transport cargo.

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The company claims that the capsules have aerodynamic improvements that allow them to exceed 1,000 km/h. According to the project, they will move through a magnetic levitation along the “rail” that is at the top of the tunnels.

The plan is for the tunnels to have a near-vacuum environment where the air pressure is very low. With this, the capsules can reach maximum speed with less resistance and, consequently, low energy consumption.

According to Virgin Hyperloop, the capsules will move together, but will not be connected. The idea is for them to go on a kind of train and, along the way, go to other tracks towards their respective destinations.

Tunnel used for tests by Virgin Hyperloop — Photo: Disclosure

After human-free testing on its version of Hyperloop, Virgin completed the first passenger experience in November 2020.

At the time, the system was tested in a stretch of 500 meters and reached 172 km/h. The company said the short runway prevented the capsules from reaching the expected peak speed.

There is still no expectation of when or where Virgin Hyperloop will carry out further passenger tests of its high-speed system.

Anyway, the tendency is for the company to accelerate the project to turn it into something real. This is because the system has also received investments in SpaceX projects, by Elon Musk.

The entrepreneur allowed other companies to work on their own versions of Hyperloop and, today, the system is also developed by companies such as HyperloopTT and Transpod.