Virgin Hyperloop completes historic passenger trial on Nevada test track

9 Nov 2020

The XP-2 Virgin Hyperloop test pod. Image: Virgin Hyperloop

The dawn of hyperloop travel edges closer following the first human passenger trial by Virgin Hyperloop.

Virgin Hyperloop, one of the companies looking to make hyperloop transport a reality, has conducted a trial of its transport pod with human passengers on board at a test site in the Nevada desert. The concept of hyperloop travel involves transporting people and cargo at huge speeds through near-vacuum tubes.

The two passengers made their maiden voyage on the newly unveiled XP-2 vehicle, designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group and Kilo Design. On board was Virgin Hyperloop co-founder and CTO, Josh Giegel, and the company’s director of passenger experience, Sara Luchian.

While the two-seater XP-2 test vehicle was built to trial and demonstrate the safety of hyperloop travel, the full-scale version of the pod will be larger with a capacity for up to 28 passengers.

The XP-2 demonstrated a number of the safety mechanisms that will feature in the commercial version, Virgin Hyperloop said, and is equipped with a state-of-the-art control system that can detect off-nominal states and rapidly trigger appropriate emergency responses. The company added that the entire process was overseen by independent safety assessor Certifer.

‘One giant leap toward ultimate dream’

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, congratulated the Virgin Hyperloop team following the trial.

“With today’s successful test, we have shown that this spirit of innovation will in fact change the way people everywhere live, work and travel in the years to come,” he said.

As one of the first people to travel on a hyperloop track, Giegel said: “We took one giant leap toward that ultimate dream, not only for me, but for all of us who are looking towards a moonshot right here on Earth.”

Last month, the location of the first Virgin Hyperloop test centre was announced in the US state of West Virginia. Aiming to be the first to launch a commercial venture based on the futuristic hyperloop concept, the Hyperloop Certification Center will act as the company’s global hub.

This came after the US Department of Transportation and the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council unveiled a guidance document in July on a clear regulatory framework for hyperloop in the US.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic