The concept of low- to no-pressure travel through tubes has been around for a few hundred years, but it’s clearly facing a revival of inspiration lately. It continues to capture imaginations as a promising future mode of transport, but also now investment dollars.
Today, the idea of achieving high-velocity travel in a controlled tube environment may have made a step forward, thanks to the startup Hyper Chariot Network.
Hyper Chariot has impressive numbers for far lower building and operating costs than other more well known systems. The company is building a 3 mile long, 400 mph proof-of-concept track with what it calls: “The Velocitator.”
The Idea Behind Hyper Chariot Networks (& HyperLoop)
The biggest hindrance to going faster is pushing the air out of the way of the vehicle so that it causes as little disturbance as possible, especially in the wake of the passage. Disturbances tug the vehicle in one direction or another, and airflow disturbances behind a car tend to slow it down. Although it would be great driving with a gigantic nose cone to split the air in front of you, it would also be highly impractical. And unlike jet fighters, I hardly see everyone driving cars with super-aerodynamic, razor sharp noses unless the already high price of insurance further flies through the roof!
So, what’s a person to do? Well, control the environment, of course. You can surely think of some movies using vacuum tubes for transport, or if you’re old enough, you may remember those pneumatic carrier transportation systems inside older buildings? You open a latch on a vast network of under-pressure tubes, stick a document in a special carriage container, close the latch, and it’s quickly sucked away to its destination. So, why can’t we make this for us and cars?
Elon Musk’s project is close to what the visionaries of last century saw: Paris to London in a few minutes. New York to Tokyo in under an hour. Madrid Auckland in a few minutes. All of this through a network of unpressurized tubes for vehicles to travel inside without dealing with air resistance they would find outside.
The Hyperloop envisioned by Elon and team and moving toward production by Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies differentiates itself in the following ways. The vehicle is similar in shape and size to a bus, can carry 28–40 people onboard, and would weigh 20 tons in fairly low pressurized vacuumed tubes. However, the Hyperloop’s low-pressure system creates a lot of air resistance going from point-to-point every 40 seconds.
Hyper Chariot, Under Pressure
Using an “interchange” system where individual capsules select their path, this allows for high frequency and occupancy mobility, as well as ways to randomly access branching through distributed access portals.
The Hyper Chariot would travel at 4,000 mph in a special tube technology the company developed. The Hyper Chariot vehicle can carry one to six people and is ultra-light, 400 lbs. It will be enclosed in 5 ft vacuumed ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) tubes that will bring it anywhere within the network. All of this rests on patented passive maglev interchanges. Why is the size of the tubes that important?
Nick Garzilli, founder, and CEO of Hyper Chariot feels a smaller size tube allows enough air to be efficiently evacuated and thus move about traffic. This also negates the sound barrier problem.
The Hyper Chariot has another major advantage — it can fit over sidewalks in a typical dense city, unlike other systems. For practical reasons, the actual path within a city would require the width of a street, but that’s still very narrow for this concept. Imagine Hyper Chariot highways integrated on top of existing city streets without disruption to existing services?
Considering that at 760 mph the Hyper Chariot will potentially carry 120 passengers per second, compared to Hyperloop’s 1.33, the Hyper Chariot certainly seems to have the lead in terms of efficient mobility — hypothetically. But it will also be much cheaper, by approximately $25 million per mile, compared to Hyperloop One’s $64 million per mile. That’s a great deal cheaper than high-speed rail (HSR), which sits at $120 million per mile.
The rest of the numbers are impressive also. 18 seconds to reach 400 mph, at 1G of acceleration, which means experiencing 3 minutes of 1G acceleration until 4,000 mph. After that, you break Mach 5 and are truly hypersonic, but we’ll have to wait 5–10 years for this to happen.
Bringing The Hyper Chariot Online
Garzilli’s Hyper Chariot is a leader in the tube transport industry and plans to develop an extensive infrastructure to move people over long distances in short periods of time at a fraction of the cost that other systems claim. The company claims to be the first to commercialize evacuated-tube transport technologies (ET3). And the numbers surely paint a rosy scenario. The team sees the Hyper Chariot not only as a transportation means but also one of energy and data transmission. Its photovoltaic solar arrays make it nearly energy self-sufficient, with a recapture rate of 90% of the energy needed to accelerate the capsule.
If you are interested in getting in on the early groundwork of the Hyper Chariot, you can head on over to the company’s Indiegogo campaign, where you will find enticing deals that will help propel the company forward, pun intended.
Final Thoughts on the Hyper Chariot
Overall, the Hyper Chariot has a lot going for it. All of that said, the founding team doesn’t have a deep engineering background (or any visible engineering background). It’s certainly not a spinoff of SpaceX or Tesla. But that doesn’t automatically disqualify their capabilities or the capabilities of other members of the crew.