Test tube transport: the Hyperloop nears reality

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar, in association with WSJ custom studios

 

Source: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Source: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Imagine traveling in capsules sucked through a tube using low air pressure and magnetic acceleration to achieve speeds of up to 760 miles (1,223 km) per hour. That’s the idea of the California Hyperloop, which could eventually cut the travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco to a mere 30 minutes, compared with today’s one-hour flight or six-hour car journey.

As soon as next year, a full-scale test track will begin construction in Quay Valley, a proposed sustainable community located between California’s two major metropolises.

The Hyperloop is a system that not only makes sense because it’s cheaper to construct, but it’s also sustainable so it’s cheaper to run,” says Dirk Ahlborn, chief executive officer of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc. “It changes the world.”

Tesla founder Elon Musk first laid out his Hyperloop vision in 2013 and invited others to take up the challenge. Turning the idea into a full-scale model in just three years may seem fast, but, as Mr. Ahlborn points out, it took a decade to get to the moon—“a way more difficult task,” he says. “The Hyperloop technology sounds like science fiction but, in the end, everything we’re doing already exists. The Quay Valley track is necessary to find out how to optimize the technology.”

The Hyperloop concept is similar to the pneumatic tubes used by banks to carry cash and documents, except that the passenger capsules would be sucked through the tube by controlled propulsion. A capsule (with large doors for speedy boarding) would enter a tightly sealed exterior shell. The tubes would probably be constructed from steel—although other materials, including fiberglass, are being considered—and covered with solar panels to supply the system’s energy. Low air pressure—of around 100 Pascals—would reduce air resistance inside the tube, while magnetic levitation and an air cushion would allow the capsule to hover above the tube’s surface. The straight track would further aid speed. As on a flight, passengers would sense how fast they are moving only when the capsule accelerates, slows or turns.

 

Hyperloop. Source: Forbes

Hyperloop. Source: Forbes

The Quay Valley track will allow engineers to work out optimum capsule size and boarding procedures. Each capsule is currently expected to seat 28 passengers and depart every 30 seconds during peak times, allowing a full-size Hyperloop to transport some 3,360 passengers an hour.

The Hyperloop would be elevated on pylons, making it possible to place the route above existing infrastructure such as highways, while also simplifying the process of obtaining right of way and minimizing the environmental impact.

More importantly, the pylons would be flexible enough to withstand earthquakes, in the way that pylons built in the 1970s to carry Alaska’s oil pipeline have proved resilient to such shocks, Mr. Ahlborn notes. As an enclosed system, the Hyperloop would also be impervious to harsh weather.

Perhaps more revolutionary than the technology is the way the Hyperloop team itself works. As well as partnering with companies and universities, more than 300 experts from 21 countries have been brought onto the team, working remotely online. Although they don’t get paid—most hold day jobs as engineers—they do get company stock options. “They’re driven by passion,” says Mr. Ahlborn.

The Hyperloop is groundbreaking in a commercial sense, too. It is expected to cost $16 billion to build, versus $68 billion for a comparable California high-speed rail line. Ticket prices for the Los Angeles-San Francisco stretch, at $20- $30, would be far cheaper than flying, and even that business model is open to disruption. “Do we need tickets?” asks Mr. Ahlborn. “Or are there other ways in which we can generate enough income.” Maybe the Hyperloop could “make more money having more people ride and we can say it’s free. Or maybe it’s free at certain times, and at peak times it costs a bit,” he adds.

The Hyperloop turns conventional infrastructure on its head, from its technology to its crowdsourcing. “Usually these things are done behind closed doors in a boardroom. We’re trying to be open. We’re using the community to do everything,” Mr. Ahlborn says. The Hyperloop “is a first for a lot of things.”

For more from Catherine, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion.

Challenges to Designing Smarter Products

By Matthew

Meeting the Challenges to Designing Smarter Products with ENOVIA

Today’s cars carry more electronics and computing power than the Apollo spacecraft that flew to the moon. One of the leading pressures facing manufacturers today is the increasing market demand for “smarter” products: products that have more functionality are more user-friendly, and more environmental. Therefore, manufacturers are incorporating an ever increasing amount of electronics and embedded software in their products.

Collaboration Design

For example, there has been a dramatic growth of electronic content in the automotive industry. The proportion of electronics in passenger cars in 2007 was around 20%, but this figure is estimated to increase to about 40% by 2015. By 2015 electronic components will become the largest contributor to a car’s overall parts and material costs.

Demand for smarter products is quite the exciting trend that offers a lot of new opportunities for innovation, at the same time there are inherent challenges. Getting it right requires new approaches to developing products. Smart products often consist of an integrated system of mechanical components, electronics, and software. This requires the involvement of multiple engineering disciplines. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, the best manufacturers seek to improve communication and collaboration across engineering disciples and increase the ability to predict system behavior prior to testing.

In particular there are certain behaviors which have negative impacts on the business of developing smart product:

  • Without significant early collaboration between the electrical and mechanical designs means that problems are addressed downstream when design changes are expensive and time consuming.
  • If the transfer of design constraints between design domains is manual and requires recreating data from scratch then there is unnecessary duplication of effort and risks of data inconsistencies.
  • When the design requires several iterations between the mechanical and electrical domains to stabilize the design, there is the chance that the design could be based on obsolete data which would lead to scrapping and rework late in the process.
  • If there is no automated way to notify the team of changes in mechanical or electrical design constraints, then design changes will be delayed increasing product time to market.

 

Costs Incurred

The impact of early life-cycle decisions on product realization is far reaching. As new products move through the sequential stages of product design to final production, the cost of engineering changes increases tremendously. A mistake that is discovered during the planning and design phase is comparatively inexpensive to fix. But if it is overlooked and discovered later during the process, such a mistake can cost manufacturers several thousand times more. By the time a mistake comes to actual manufacturing, for example, it could cost millions more to fix compared to what it would have cost if detected earlier.

According to Aberdeen Group, Best-in-Class manufacturer leverage PLM solutions to improve communication and collaboration across disciplines. However, the ECAD (Electrical) and MCAD (Mechanical) domains present a unique challenge that requires a unique solution.

Learn how Dassault Systèmes can help. Register here to watch the 10 minute ECAD EXPERIENCE webinar:  http://www.3ds.com/products-services/enovia/resources/enovia-ecad

Matthew J. Hall

Matthew J. Hall

Matthew Hall is the ENOVIA User Advocacy & Social EXPERIENCE Specialist.  You can find him on Twitter at @mjhall. Connect with ENOVIA at @3DSENOVIA

 

SHoP Architects to Deliver Facades+ Keynote and Technical Workshop

By Akio

Learn how SHoP Architects use CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE on Cloud at Facades+

Facades+ New York City is the premier conference on high-performance building enclosures. Architects, fabricators, developers, consultants and design professionals will attend the New York City Facades+ Symposium & Workshops April 16-17, 2015.

 Keynote from SHoP’s Pasquarelli

Gregg Pasquarelli,
Founding Partner,
SHoP Architects

SHoP Architects Founding Principal Gregg Pasquarelli will deliver a keynote at the Symposium.

Since 1996, Pasquarelli has led SHoP Architects as it has set the standard for creative exploration in the field, producing trend-setting designs such as the Porter House apartments and the Barclays Center arena. In 2014, Fast Company named SHoP “Most Innovative Architecture Firm in the World.”

Tweet: Gregg Pasquarelli will deliver the keynote address at #FacadesPlus NYC @FacadePlus @SHoPArchitects @3DSAEC #AEC http://ctt.ec/zdx4I+ Click to tweet: “Gregg Pasquarelli will deliver the keynote address at #FacadesPlus NYC”

SHoP Architects Workshop

Participants will have the chance to join a full day of hands-on instruction by industry experts in small sessions and work with cutting edge technologies in a fast-paced and intensive environment. The innovative SHoP Architects will present the workshop: “Parametric Facade Systems & Logistics Sequencing.” The creation, and documentation of a parametric, unitized facade system using the latest version of Dassault Systemes’ CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE on Cloud. Other processes are used by multi­vender solutions. For more information or to register, visit the Facades+ registration page.

About Facades+

Facades+ is the leading conference on high performance and high design building skins. A robust dialogue encompassing all aspects of building envelopes, Facades+ bridges industry, academia, the profession, operations, and ownership.

The developing technology of high-performance facades has emerged as the key to building systems integration, central to the realization of resilient buildings and a sustainable built environment. We invite you to join the exciting conversation that is Facades+.

Tweet: @SHoPArchitects to Deliver #FacadesPlus Keynote and Technical Workshop | #AEC @FacadesPlus @3DSAEC @Dassault3DS http://ctt.ec/N47M6+Click to tweet this article.


Related Resources

White Paper: Technological Changes Brought by BIM to Façade Design

Façade Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience



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