The most common reaction I get when explaining the concept of the Hyperloop to people who have never heard of it is: “Hell no.” No one wants to be the first to step inside a windowless pod that careens through an airless tube at almost twice the speed of sound. No one wants to imagine what could happen to their bodies if something goes wrong. No one wants to be liquified, Roger Corman-style.
One startup, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, is working on waylaying those fears through — what else? — pretty pictures of cool technology. The company, which is based in LA, is very good at releasing loads of images of a transportation system that, so far, does not yet exist in the world. And this morning, at a technology conference in Vienna, the company’s executives played a video that shows what a passenger experience could be like inside one of their pods.
While its rival Hyperloop One is more focused on using the far-out transportation system to move freight — the startup recently announced plans to study using the Hyperloop to move cargo between the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles — Hyperloop Transportation aims to convince skeptics that its system will be safe for passengers. Today, the company announced it would be using a new type of super-strong carbon fiber called Vibranium to make its pods extra safe.
But look inside that capsule! Can’t you imagine kicking back in one of those deliciously beige leather seats, latest issue of Monocle resting in your lap, as you’re whisked along at 760 mph from San Francisco to LA? Or Bratislava to Budapest? (HTT has a signed contract with the Eastern European country Slovakia.)
Of course, when you’re looking out the window, what you’ll see won’t actually be the passing scenery, but a video of the passing scenery, or a scenery simulation. Real windows in a Hyperloop pod would only show the interior of the tube through which it’s traveling, and that sounds dark and boring.
That’s why HTT is working with a Munich-based company called Re’Flekt, which specializes in virtual and augmented reality. According to the video above, interactive panels that display the time, weather, and route of your Hyperloop pod could be a substitute for real windows. Motion-capture technology could adjust the image depending on where you’re looking.
Keep in mind, HTT has yet to publicly test any prototypes, unlike Hyperloop One, which conducted an open-air test of its propulsion system a few weeks ago. So while this all looks intriguing and cool, they’re just renderings, which by their very nature are intriguing and cool. It will take a lot more to convince people, especially those who enjoy having bodies, to throw caution to the wind and step foot inside a Hyperloop pod.
When the Hyperloop competition came to Texas