Earlier this year, the first full-scale passenger Hyperloop capsule started its construction in Toulouse, France. The Hyperloop can transport passengers in pods at speeds faster than 700 mph. This capsule is the high point of over three years of study, design and analysis. The ongoing construction reports an official reveal in early 2018, which will then be used in a commercial system to be announced based on ongoing feasibility studies.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is a startup that created a bit of hype back in 2015 when they announced that their 5-mile test track in the Quay Valley north of Los Angeles will break ground beginning May 2016. They stated that their system will be available for passenger use in 2018. At the time, HTT was the first to release a timeline for the futuristic transport system. The company sought to expand operations in Europe through a research and development center in Toulouse.
Toulouse Welcomes Hyperloop
HTT’s new French facility is located at Francazal Airport following an announcement of surpassing $100 million in-kind and equity investment. Francazal Airport was a military base and is now converted into a 3,000 square meter facility with an outdoor terrain. It’s forecasted to drive employment growths within the region for engineers and researchers, among others. Toulouse is a place known for smart ground transportation and as Europe’s aerospace valley. Francazal Airport provides the required space for testing any number of HTT’s autonomous transport systems.
The Toulouse facility is a continuation of HTT’s construction of its 3-kilometer test track in Nevada. The French base will be the site of initial tests for the new systems that will carry passengers up to speeds of 900 kilometers per hour. This aims to provide solutions in reducing travel times and delays, which will strengthen current infrastructures and projects.
CEO and co-founder, Dirk Ahlborne, believes that the new facility has access to lots of aerospace talent and is at the center of European aerospace technologies. “Our new center in Toulouse will help us continue to develop and manufacture important aerospace technology which will further improve the system,” said HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn. “The talent pool in the region allows us to hire some of the brightest minds in aerospace.” He adds that the Toulouse facility will allow the application of resources and collaboration with local partners to develop the HTT technologies even further.
“Hyperloop Transportation Technologies represents the cutting edge of transportation,” said Jean-Luc Moudenc, Mayor of Toulouse and President of Toulouse Métropole. “This new collaborative corporation is already having a big impact on Europe and the rest of the world. We look forward to the exciting advancements that HTT will develop here.”
Patrice Duboe, Innovation VP for the Capgemini Office, also credits that the building of the Hyperloop can be a growth driver for the whole region as the new transportation system project will conclude within five years.
“Toulouse is the heart of Europe’s aerospace industry so it is only natural that we have a presence there amongst many of our partners and peers,” said HTT Chairman Bibop Gresta. “We are grateful to the community of Toulouse for welcoming us with open arms.”
The Hyperloop Capsule
The capsule will measure 98.5 feet (30 meters) in length (about six cars parked together), 9 feet (2.7 meters) in diameters and will weigh at 20 tons. The capsule will hold between 28 to 40 people and can travel from 760 mph up to 900 mph (wherein Japan’s fastest train, the Maglev bullet train, only goes up to 374 mph).
HTT is working with Carbures, a company with headquarters in Spain that builds aerospace, aeronautics and railway structures and parts, in building the capsule. The company is passenger-focused and guarantees that safety is a priority above everything else.
“This will be the first time a full-scale passenger Hyperloop capsule will be built and shown to the world,” said Ahlborn. “We put this on par with the first time any type of transportation has been revealed publicly, such as the first locomotive, airplane, or automobile, each of these signified a major shift in the way we live our lives on a global scale.”
Aside from France, Hyperloop is developing routes in four other countries. HTT has also signed a partnership agreement with Abu Dhabi to develop a route connecting to Al Ain and Dubai. They also signed with the Czech Republic to connect Prague with Bratislava. Routes are also in negotiation with India and Australia. Their goal is to be moving cargo by 2020 and passengers by 2021.