Future of high-speed transport? U of T team races to build world's first 'Hyperloop'
Published Saturday, May 14, 2016 9:59PM EDT
Imagine being able to travel between Toronto and Montreal in 30 minutes.
Or from Calgary to Edmonton in under 20 minutes.
It could be a reality sooner than you think.
A team from the University of Toronto’s engineering department is hoping to radically transform long-distance transportation. They want to be the first to create technology that could whisk people at near-supersonic speeds through a tube, from city to city in minutes.
A reality once relegated to futuristic shows and books, such transportation would carry people inside pods to their destination by travelling at nearly the speed of sound.
Approximately 30 people are working on the Toronto team, a collaboration between U of T and a private company called TransPod.
“We’re starting in Canada because we want to make this a leading edge Canadian design that we bring to the world,” said Ryan Janzen, TransPod’s chief technology officer.
Much of what they’re working on is being kept under wraps for the time being.
But a teaser image has been released showing their vision for a so-called Hyperloop tube – and it shows the technology running out of downtown Toronto.
“The initial speed is about 1,200 kilometres an hour, so it’s quite fast,” Sebastien Gendron, founder and CEO of TransPod, told CTV News.
At twice the speed of the fastest bullet train, it’s imagined a Hyperloop would see passengers travelling on a magnetic levitation system inside a nearly airless tube.
The idea was popularized by Elon Musk, the creator of the electric car company Tesla and founder of private aerospace company SpaceX.
“It’s a cross between a Concorde (plane), a railgun and an air hockey table,” Musk has said in describing Hyperloop technology.
Musk doesn’t have time to build it, so he’s challenging others to make it happen based on his open-source concept. Earlier this year, students from 20 countries gathered in Texas to talk about Hyperloop technology.
Companies are working on their own prototypes. On Wednesday, a Los Angeles-based company tested a motor, demonstrating the technology isn’t just pure fantasy.
The Toronto team figures a Hyperloop could carry people from Toronto to Ottawa in 30 minutes.
“I believe that is something quite exciting and can happen,” said University of Toronto professor Kamran Behdinan.
A commercial version could be ready in just five years.
With a report by CTV’s John Vennavally-Rao