This new means of public transport is superfast, all-electric and autonomous, and takes place underground, in low-pressure vacuum tunnels where passenger pods propelled by electromagnetic levitation can reach top speeds of 760 mph (1,223 kph). Unlike conventional rail trains, the hyperloop has no stations, and is not weather- or schedule-dependent.
This is exactly what makes it ideal for a post-COVID 19 world, Virgin Hyperloop’s Director of Passenger Experience Sara Luchian tells Forbes in a new interview. A prototype pod is scheduled to be introduced at the Dubai World’s Fair in October 2021, and the first Hyperloop One is still on schedule for 2030, with certification to be obtained in the following years.
Because everything is automated, there is very little human contact during, before and after the ride, Luchian explains. You summon a pod, you get to the station, you’re scanned (biometrics, temperature, luggage), you board the pod, you get off at your station. Hyperloop One would still employ human staff, but they would work remote, which means no contact between them and passengers.
“There are no wait times so there’s less congregating and more spacing. There are also no weather delays because the pods travel in an enclosed tube. The pods themselves are fully customizable, designed to hold 16-28 passengers, and can be reconfigured for any need, including hauling cargo,” Luchian explains.
To fully address health concerns, Hyperloop One could integrate further features, such as the inclusion of touchless technology, with facial recognition and thermal scanners.
“We’re looking at antimicrobial copper and silver surfaces to kill pathogens, ultraviolet lighting to disinfect lavatories, and multi-sensory experiences with organic elements (including ambient scents and sounds) to connect passengers to nature and help them relax,” Luchian adds.
Because all of this probably sounds too sci-fi for some, Luchian adds the future they’re building is not dystopian: it’s a better one, with the least invasive technology and in compliance with privacy laws.