Yesterday, Hyperloop One conducted the first test of the propulsion system that may eventually shoot people through tubes at very high speeds. Hyperloop One’s CEO Rob Lloyd described the test as an “engineering milestone,” but while it was undoubtedly impressive, Hyperloop still has a long way to go.
It’s worth remembering how Hyperloop is supposed to work. In Elon Musk’s original plans, a pod carrying humans travels down a tube in a partial vacuum, levitating using compressed air, and being propelled forwards using electromagnets.
Yesterday’s test only involved the propulsion component. A “sled” carrying the linear induction motor shot down an empty track, accelerating from 0 to 120mph in 1.5 seconds, and topping out at 300mph. It was a good spectacle for the assembled press, but in reality, little more than a glorified roller coaster.