Exploring transportation’s future: The Hyperloop

Posted in: Bridges, Construction, Municipal, Transportation

The transportation industry is being revolutionized with new technologies and innovations. During World Creativity and Innovation Week, Mead & Hunt celebrates innovation in the transportation industry. While the world is submerged with great innovations that get people where they need to go, highlighting a single ground-breaking innovation in transportation seems impossible.

In the not so distant future, we will see widespread use of driverless and smart cars, smart streets, smart cities, self-healing concrete and solar panel tile roadways. As a member of Mead & Hunt’s internal Innovation Group, founded by an energetic team of employees who are passionate about innovation, I’ve polled colleagues throughout the transportation industry to identify great innovations of tomorrow. One really exciting idea receiving lots of hype is the Hyperloop.

Image courtesy of Hyperloop One
Image courtesy of Hyperloop One

Hyperloop One is a private company that is currently developing the world’s first Hyperloop. According to their website, the Hyperloop is a new way to move people and things at airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket. It’s on-demand, energy-efficient and safe.

Passengers ride inside the Hyperloop in pods that travel at airline speeds. The tubes are similar to the pneumatic tubes we’re familiar with at a bank’s drive-through window. The pods will travel along a tube track and will accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. Hyperloop engineers envision that the pod will glide silently for miles with no turbulence. This new infrastructure is also expected to be less expensive than rail infrastructure.

Hyperloop One issued The Hyperloop One Global Challenge, a competition inviting teams from around the world to submit a comprehensive proposal for their cities, regions or countries to be considered to host the first Hyperloop networks.

Image courtesy of Hyperloop One

According to a recent Denver Post article, 35 proposals have been selected as finalists for the network, 11 of which are located within the United States. One of the domestic finalists proposes a 360-mile route to connect the Denver International Airport to Pueblo, Vail and Cheyenne, Wyoming. The route between Denver and Vail would take 8.4 minutes on the Hyperloop. For comparison, this same route takes two hours and 36 minutes by car. Similarly, a proposal from Australia could allow passengers to travel from Melbourne to Sydney in 55 minutes on the Hyperloop as compared to 10 hours and 45 minutes by car.

This technology is developing quickly, and passenger travel is anticipated in the next five years. I look forward to learning more about the Hyperloop and am excited about the current innovations in the transportation industry that future generations will experience. In what ways do you think this and other technology will transform our transportation network? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Jamie Bumgarner, PE

About the Author

Jamie Bumgarner, PE is a Core Team Member of Mead & Hunt’s Innovation Group with nearly 20 years of civil engineering experience in the transportation industry.  He currently serves as the President-Elect of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Engineering Companies of West Virginia and strives to deliver innovative designs and plans.

Read more posts by Jamie Bumgarner, PE

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