All aboard! London to Gatwick in four minutes
Will it mean the end of cities? Last week, passengers took a ride in a hyperloop for the first time. This new super-fast transport could change the way we think about cities forever.
The two passengers buckle their seat belts and smile nervously. At the control centre, an engineer starts the countdown:
“Five, four, three, two, one. LAUNCH!”
Six seconds later, it is all over. On board, the passengers are clapping and laughing. They have just travelled in a hyperloop.
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A hyperloop is a form of transport where pods travel quickly in a tube. It is solar powered and runs on tiny amounts of electricity.
Elon Musk came up with the idea in 2013, but needed help from other companies to build it.
Last week, Virgin became the first to test its hyperloop with passengers. They reached a top speed of 107mph.
But this was only a fraction of the top possible speed. A few days later, a Korean hyperloop with no passengers reached a speed of 633mph – faster than most aeroplanes.
At such speeds, people could cross countries in just a few hours. A trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take only 43 minutes.
With such speedy links to cities, people might start moving further away.
Will it mean the end of cities?
Yes! The hyperloop will go so fast that trips that once took days could take hours. You could live in the highlands of Scotland and be in London in an hour. As the hyperloop becomes more popular, people will choose to move further away. The countryside will fill up and the cities will be empty – we will not need them anymore.
Of course not! Cities are not only places for people to go to work. They have museums, art galleries, football stadiums and theatres. You can visit monuments and learn the history of the country. The hyperloop might make cities even more popular. You could use it to go to Paris in thirty minutes from London: an ideal afternoon holiday!
- Would you prefer to live in a city or the countryside?
- Design the inside of a hyperloop pod. Choose how many seats there are. Think about what people would do to pass the time. Are there TVs? Is there food on board?
Some People Say...
“What is a city, but the people?”Coriolanus by William Shakespeare, English playwright
What do you think?
- Somebody who is trained in the use or design of machines or engines, or in other technologies.
- Solar powered
- Turning the light from the sun into electricity. This is a form of green energy, making the hyperloop better for the environment than planes and traditional cars or trains.
- Elon Musk
- The inventor of Tesla. He has been busy for the past few years with SpaceX, a company that has sent rockets to the International Space Station and hopes to go to Mars.
- A company that was originally set up by Richard Branson, one of the world’s richest men.
- The Virgin Hyperloop can travel much faster, but the test was slow to keep the people inside safe.
- A part or a very small part of something. It also means a number, such as 1/2 (one half) or 1/4 (one quarter).
- Most passenger jets fly at about 460mph. Their top speeds are usually 575mph. Many military planes fly much faster, some even travelling faster than the speed of sound.
- Los Angeles to San Francisco
- The two California cities are 382 miles apart. The journey would take around six hours in a car.
- Something built in memory of a person, event, or special deed.