Virgin Hyperloop has completed a trial of its first ever passenger journey, marking a step closer to Virgin’s plan to commercialise its hyperloop system by 2030.
The company’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Josh Giegel and Director of Passenger Experience Sara Luchian participated in the trial of this new form of transportation, reaching speeds of up to 107mph (172 km/h). The test took place at Virgin Hyperloop’s 500 meter DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, where the company has previously run over 400 unoccupied tests.
“When we started in a garage over 6 years ago, the goal was simple – to transform the way people move,” said Giegel. “Today, 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.”
The two passengers travelled on the newly-unveiled XP-2 vehicle, designed by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group and Kilo Design, which was custom-built with occupant safety and comfort in mind. While the production vehicle will be larger and seat up to 28 passengers, this two-seater XP-2 vehicle was built to demonstrate that passengers can travel safely in a hyperloop vehicle.
“Hyperloop is about so much more than the technology. It’s about what it enables,” said Luchian, who will be speaking at the upcoming FTE APEX Virtual Expo (8-9 December). “To me, the passenger experience ties it all together. And what better way to design the future than to actually experience it first-hand?”
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of Virgin Hyperloop and Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, also commented: “I have always had tremendous faith in the team at Virgin Hyperloop to transform this technology into a safe system, and today we have done that. We are one step closer to ushering in a new era of ultra-fast, sustainable movement of people and goods.”
The testing campaign has been overseen by the Independent Safety Assessor (ISA) Certifer. Having undergone a rigorous and exhaustive safety process, the XP-2 vehicle demonstrates many of the safety-critical systems that will be found on a commercial hyperloop system and is equipped with a state-of-the-art control system that can detect off-nominal states and rapidly trigger appropriate emergency responses.
Jay Walder, CEO, Virgin Hyperloop, commented: “I can’t tell you how often I get asked ‘is hyperloop safe? With today’s passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question, demonstrating that not only can Virgin Hyperloop safely put a person in a pod in a vacuum environment, but that the company has a thoughtful approach to safety which has been validated by an independent third party.”
The announcement follows recent developments on the regulatory front. Last month, Virgin Hyperloop unveiled West Virginia as the location for the Hyperloop Certification Center (HCC). In July 2020, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao and the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council unveiled the guidance document on a clear regulatory framework for hyperloop in the United States.
This historic announcement provides a pathway for hyperloop regulation and deployment in the US, and also establishes hyperloop’s eligibility for federal funding for projects.