Hyperloop One company is planning to open routes in the USA and Europe in 2021, which should allow us to travel long distances a few times faster than flying and the tickets would be a lot cheaper. YJ Fisher, Senior International Counsel of Hyperloop One at Vilnius Innovation Forum Innovation Drift revealed how this transport revolution became possible and when it will reach the Baltics.
Movements, which simulate laws of the universe on the ground
Hyperloop trips are like this: passenger gets into a capsule, the door closes and the capsule starts moving to the chosen destination inside a closed tube. When the capsule reaches the necessary speed, it starts levitating due to an electromagnetic interaction between the tube, the capsule and the pressure, which replicates the laws of the universe, it can reach up to 1,080 km/h speed. Besides, such trip doesn't do any harm to the environment and, compared to plane flights, on the contrary, doesn't require long preparation and departs when the passenger is ready. Meanwhile the movement shouldn't be affecting the body more than a flight – the passenger can stand up and walk in the Hyperloop capsule.
"Since the beginning of the 20th century, when the aeroplanes were invented and developed, this was the first revolutionary vehicle. Hyperloop One is the only company in the world, which connects every field from science, needed to implement the technology, to law for obtaining safety certificates. We tested the Hyperloop technology this July in Nevada, USA and today the technology is one step away from implementation," said YJ Fischer in her speech.
It is planned to open factories and Hyperloop One centres in Europe and the Middle East in 2018. The company is currently having talks with the EU so that it can begin working in all of Europe in the next year.
The question we hear the most often is when the system is going to be implemented everywhere. Our answer is, in 2021. It seems like a very short time for the entire world's transport system to change, however the technological side of the system is ready to implement if the safety certificates are issued and the government decides to approve the technology. According to the Hyperloop Counsel, the entire Hyperloop movement from the theory to the real model was created within a year and a half, so it can be applied for commercial use in four years.
It promises to change the way we perceive geography
One Hyperloop trip is without stops or changes so the capsule is able to reach the speed of an aeroplane. A human does not operate it, but rather by a computer, so there is no room for mistakes and the entire transport system must be perfectly coordinated.
"Imagine that I need to travel from Vilnius to Los Angeles and someone else needs to go to Berlin. We go to the station, board our capsules and get moving. We are moving in the same tube for some time, but later on you detach and are moving ahead. This is basically an Uber travel mode, which allows someone to choose when and where they want to travel independently of other people: Hyperloop connects the speed of a plane with the rail system, which allows to disconnect from other capsules at the convenience of metro system," explains Y J Fischer.
Hyperloop One uses Helsinki and Tallinn as an example. Today even the speed train between them takes 30-40 minutes, on top of that, people need to stick to the timetable, so the trip takes even longer. Using the new Hyperloop system, this trip with would take 6 minutes. The specialist jokes about a very realistic idea of: "Being able to travel to a different country, eat your lunch and get back to work".
"When we take a city like Helsinki, which has an excessive number of residents, so that new arrivals struggle to find a cheap place to live, we can see how Hyperloop can help solve such problems. Life in suburbs is now cheaper, but an inconvenient alternative, for which one needs to own a car, and spend extra time. However, if hundreds of kilometres can be travelled in minutes, then the distance between the metropolitan areas and the suburbs would no longer be an obstacle.
Society is already looking for higher speed. In a few years the speed of travel will allow us to rethink our lives. For example, if you own a big company: you can have operations in the suburbs without considering employees, who may not want to live there, because then they'll be able to travel to work in several minutes and you also won't need to worry about the supplies, as you could keep them hundreds of kilometres away and ship them without worrying about long truck journeys and so on. It will become so easy to live and work on different sides of the Globe and it will become so simple, as it is to live in suburbs and work in the city centre today," explains YJ Fischer.
Half an hour to Tallinn and less than an hour to Berlin
The representative of Hyperloop One came to Innovation Drift not only to present common goals of the company, but also to reveal its particular vision for Lithuania. One of the first long distance European routes is planned for Vilnius.
"You already have Via Baltica. But, when we look at the three Baltic capitals on the map, it's obvious, that on a Vilnius-Tallinn route, Riga requires a turn-off. If you have a line between Vilnius and Tallinn, then Riga would only need a small turn off tube and everyone would save time. We don't expect to stop here: Vilnius may be connected to Warsaw, Warsaw to Berlin, then Copenhagen, Stockholm and then again to Tallinn. You can see it on the map – you have a kind of loop, from which other routes branch off and we will cover everything from Scandinavia to Germany," the Counsel of Hyperloop shares the company's vision.
Journeys in this loop shouldn't take too long: 90 minutes from Tallinn to Berlin, 35 minutes from Tallinn to Vilnius, and 18 min. from Tallinn to Riga.
Y J Fischer named their biggest challenges: prejudice against the cost of such innovations and difficult certification processes, which don't comply with the principles of Hyperloop operation. And the most important problem, the cost, isn't very high.
"Take Sweden as an example. They are looking into the national high-speed train and it will cost 35 billion Euros even with modest calculations. Meanwhile, independent agency research has shown that designing analogous Hyperloop routes would cost between 22 and 27 billion Euros. What is more, since the capsule is levitating for most of the time, it doesn't require any fuel and therefore every trip costs less than going the same distance today," says Y J Fischer.
The Vilnius Innovation Forum Innovation Drift from 12-13th October is organised by the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Lithuania and Lithuanian Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA). The European Regional Development Fund funds the Event, which is held during Innovation week. One of the biggest futuristic events in the Baltic Sea region this year attracted more than forty scientists, businessmen and futurologists from 15 countries of the world.