Virgin Hyperloop, which has been working on its transportation solution since 2014, has officially completed a trip with living, breathing, human passengers. The two history-making passengers traveled at approximately 100 miles per hour through an airless 500-meter tube last night at Virgin’s Nevada DevLoop facility.
Josh Giegel, Virgin Hyperloop’s co-founder and chief technology officer, and Sara Luchian, the company’s head of passenger experience, were on-board for the landmark test. Both Giegel and Luchian were given extensive training and testing as preparation for the trip.
This trip is monumental not just for Virgin Hyperloop but also for the larger passenger travel market — it’s a huge step forward toward reaching Elon Musk’s vision of hyper-fast travel around the world. But it’s still going to be a while before the average person can buy a ticket.
Safety first — As you might imagine, strapping two humans into a pod that travels more than 100 miles per hour is something of a daunting task. Virgin Hyperloop made safety its priority on this test run for that very reason.
More than 400 uncrewed trips were completed on the DevLoop track before any real people were allowed to make the journey. The company told Engadget that both Giegel and Luchian completed walkthroughs with detailed explanations of exit points and procedures to get themselves out of the capsule if something were to go awry.
Enter Pegasus — Giegel and Luchian rode in a second-generation Hyperloop pod known as the “Pegasus.” Where the company’s first Hyperloop pods were designed with the obvious in mind — just getting from point A to point B without crashing — Pegasus is more geared toward the idea that people will actually be riding in these things one day.
Pegasus is sleek and comfortable, thanks to design help from the design firm owned by Bjarke Ingels. It’s meant to feel familiar to passengers — a feeling that will be of the utmost importance to the company’s success if it wants people to actually ride the Hyperloop.
Not there just yet — This first crewed ride was a success by just about any measure. But it doesn’t mean we’ll be buying Hyperloop trips around the country any time soon. Virgin Hyperloop doesn’t exactly have a timeline as to when Hyperloop travel will be open to the public. The company originally said it expected to be ready by 2020, but that’s now been pushed to 2021.
Virgin Hyperloop has mountains of work ahead of it: raising funds, securing government approval for construction, actually constructing the super long interconnecting tunnels… so suffice to say this futuristic travel is still just a vision for the time being. Still: even this limited test is an impressive start.