Virgin is taking the hyperloop idea seriously. The idea being that you travel at great speed through a tube with rarified or no air (vacuum). This of course is a strange notion, you would be in a sealed capsule going at 800 km/hr through a tube where you could not breath. If it gets stuck how would you escape? But this goes for trains and planes and busses as well, if your plane breaks down in mid air or you train derails or your bus runs off a bridge.
We’ve written about glass tubes for hyperloop here. If hyperloop tubes where made of laminated glass you could make them super strong yet transparent and super smooth. Virgin is however going with a propulsion system that requires systems mounted in the tube, but maybe even those can be integrated and added during the “tube rolling” process.
Modern rail is advancing towards faster trains, but these require enormous amounts of energy to push themselves through the ever denser air in front. Planes go to altitudes where air is less thick but rail connections are usually at ground level, where air is denser (the densest air you find near the Dead Sea for example as this lake lies 400 meters below sea level). Pushing through no air is way easier.
We hope funds are diverted to Hyperloop projects, and that these project don’t get stuck (by fossil lobbies) in endless research from universities (as is the case with thin film solar for example). We need them now. In the vision of Virgin Hyperloop the tubes are covered with solar panels. They make the propulsion free of cost. We could apply such ideas elsewhere, also in logistics. Why not have a silk road that self propells? Food for thought!