by Anmol AhujaNov 19, 2020
While the current pandemic has disrupted our regular outlook at life, the future of travel particularly seeming blurry and uncertain, Virgin Hyperloop’s counter narrative of a better tomorrow with a greener, smoother, safer and more pleasant mass transit experience is a welcome change. Considering the change the introduction of railways brought to the world, followed by the four wheeled automobile and air travel, to the age of autonomous driving, the Hyperloop is the next major jump in automobile design and technology.
Virgin Hyperloop revolutionises mobility on land, creating a brand new passenger experience for its travellers. The new mode of travel at near supersonic speeds redefines the perception of space, landscape, time and distance. It is a holistic and an intelligent mode of transportation for a globalised community to travel across boundless distances in a far easier, cleaner and safer way compared to airlines. Along the same lines, Sara Luchian, Virgin Hyperloop’s Director of Passenger Experience and one of the first people to experience the hyperloop, states: “Designing a new mode of transportation from scratch is both an opportunity and a responsibility”.
To bring forth their vision, Virgin Hyperloop has worked with renowned partners across diverse industries. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) for the portal designs, Teague for the pod designs, SeeThree for the video and animation, and Man Made Music for the score and sonic identity, worked together in harmony to design a passenger experience that is unprecedented for other forms of mass transit.
The pods in Virgin Hyperloop contain recessed seat wells to create a greater sense of space, ensuring a relaxed and comfortable journey to the passengers. The raised aisles in the middle thus require passengers to step down to get to their respective seats. In contrast to conventional mass transit designs, bands of greenery and wood textures have been added to the interiors of the pod, giving it a fresh and sanguine look. The lighting in the pod, including the information displays that flash information regarding travel time, speed and the next stop are dynamic and adjust based on passenger activity and journey milestones.
Going a step ahead, Virgin Hyperloop has also researched and embedded unique user centric findings in their design, the most prominent among them being utilising the property of sound and revolutionising the aural experience of mass transit. “We respond to sound quicker than any other sense, so sound actually drives the multi-sensory experiences,” mentions Joel Beckerman, Founder and Lead Composer at Man Made Music. “The sonic cues of the Virgin Hyperloop identity system serve as a guide for passengers throughout their experience while instilling confidence, safety, and clarity – you ‘feel’ it rather than ‘hear’ it. The interface is humanised in ways that are both fresh and familiar”.
Though each vehicle can carry only up to 28 passengers, the hyperloop system controlled by Virgin Hyperloop’s machine intelligence software will be able to commute thousands of passengers per hour through an elaborately planned network. Thanks to the high throughput, this will be made possible by convoying vehicles one behind another in the tube within seconds.
The primary area of focus of Virgin Hyperloop’s passenger experience is accessibility. To expand services to the majority of the masses, the ticket prices will be connate to driving as opposed to flying. This will allow travellers to commute at affordable prices between cities that are currently hours apart in minutes, defying the notion that high-speed transport is not for everyone.
Virgin Hyperloop is now heading to secure regulations and certification of hyperloop systems around the world. The company plans to achieve safety certification by 2025, hoping to become fully functional by the beginning of 2030.
Also read our previous coverage on the Virgin Hyperloop passenger tests.