Pods then zoom in and out of the main Hyperloop row, while another capsule from an adjacent row crosses paths and heads to another destination. “Our” train, meanwhile, is broken into its individual capsules and sent to individual bunks ready for passengers to exit. This is happening at such speeds that it is impossible to imagine the kind of switching technology that would be required to make this happen. The company claims that rather than a physical switch, the magnetic levitation sleds will be able to decide which track to take. And that will naturally be supported by the company’s proprietary technology.
This is the second time the company has released an ambitious video outlining its vision for how the system works. The first, from 2016, was set in 2020 (!) And imagined people walking towards a Hyperloop station and entering a square pod. This capsule would drive into a dock where it would join three others, entering a capsule that then sailed through the Hyperloop tube itself. At the other end, the pods would exit the pod, leave the station, and proceed to the requested destination.
In comparison, this video is almost unbelievably realistic in its take on how things would work if made. Autonomous road modules are abandoned and stations now look like stations, albeit very chic. Passengers enter through a door line and go through a security scan, because for all talk about a train-like experience, it’s likely that some form of security theater is mandatory.
The capsule cabin looks a lot more like a train car with its row of seats in a 2-1 layout – and a capsule bathroom. The capacity of this render is 17, although the company designed the pods to accommodate up to 28 at a time. It is designed to look like something created by designers at Virgin, and even if it doesn’t look sort of like a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class cabin, it feels just like it does. In addition, the built-in Qi phone charging plates and seat-mounted countdown displays are the only visual clutter in the lounge-style module.
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at Hyperloop is that it cannot hope to match or exceed the passenger capacity of a regular train. The company says the maximum capacity of each pod is 28 and that by running them in groups it will be able to “carry thousands of passengers per hour.” This relies on the fact that the company’s software is smart enough to maintain the distances between every convoy and every pod in it. Again, Virgin Hyperloop claims its technology is smart enough to condition the capsules and keep the trip at peak capacity.
In a statement, company CEO Jay Walder said that despite the chic style, “if it’s not affordable, people won’t use it.” He added that “high speed transportation is currently not possible for most people, but we want to change that notion.” The company cited a study from early 2020 to suggest that the price of a ticket would be comparable to the cost of gasoline when driving between two large metropolitan areas.
Naturally, there is still a long way to go before these claims are put to the test, and the company is now aiming to run its first passenger transport operation in 2030.