Don’t brush off Hyperloop Transport Technologies just yet. You may have missed a bit of the current event updates coming from the corporation named HTT, which took on the challenge to actualize the Hyperloop concept quite some time ago. This may be due to the increased spotlight coverage of Hyperloop One in recent news because of their large-scale test runs and scandal stories. Regardless, I am here to keep you in the loop.
Earlier in May of this year, HTT proposed a solution to the transport system based on a passive magnetic levitation system. At the heart of this proposal is a smart material, which you may have read about before in Marvel comic books, known as Vibranium. What is this material exactly? Dirk Ahlborn provides us with some insight:
“Vibranium is a composite material that has some sensor technology as part of it,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “Some news outlets think that sensors are just put in there, but in fact they’re part of the composite. The material is actually smart; it can sense structure integrity, temperature, pressure, etc.”
Apart from its extraterrestrial feature in American comic books, apparently Vibranium may have a genuine application to the development of the Hyperloop. The character of this smart material offers a means for HTT to obtain sensor readings within the Hyperloop capsule in real-time. Furthermore, according to HTT’s video below, Vibranium functions with 10 times the strength of steel and is over 2 times more rigid than aluminum. That being said, it provides a leg up for HTT in terms of safety, which may the greatest obstacle for this whole idea moving forward.
So now that they have the material all set, and experiments are on the way, what is the next threat to entry? No, the answer is not truly money. The answer to this question for Hyperloop would most likely be local and national authorities, and more specifically the regulations set in place.
“There is a team in Slovakia’s government that really wants to help and change the country, and one of the biggest issues that we have is with regulations,” Ahlborn said in an interview. “So having a government that wants to make these things happen is very important. It’s not about funding, funding is the easy part, it’s really about having governmental support.”
Like Hyperloop One, HTT depends on the successful collaboration not only between researchers and innovators world-wide but also between the industrial and administrative worlds. And this is the exact reason why Slovakia seems like such a lucrative destination for HTT to plan their first transportation routes, as evident through their ongoing negotiations to connect Bratislava and Vienna.
You may be surprised to hear that Slovakia is currently the largest producer of cars per capita in the world. Big name automotive companies such as Volkswagen (maybe not so much recently…), Audi, and Range Rover all have facilities located within Slovakia. It is noteworthy to consider the development and progressiveness of the country as it is now in comparison to how it was over twenty years ago. And it will be important to note how the collaboration between the nation and the Hyperloop concept will cooperate and progress in the coming months.