A group of students from Memorial University are helping design a prototype for what could be the future of transportation: the Hyperloop.
The Hyperloop was announced by tech mogul Elon Musk in 2013 and has been heralded as a way to revolutionize transportation and cargo delivery between cities, making it so a trip from a place like Corner Brook to St. John's could be completed in only 30 minutes.
"It's basically a pod, which is kind of like a train, that's inside of a depressurized tube that either floats on air or magnetic levitation and can travel at almost the speed of sound," said student Adam Keating.
Keating and Andrew Way are part of Open Loop, a Hyperloop pod development team that includes students from Memorial, Cornell, Michigan, Northeastern and Princeton universities, along with Harvey Mudd College in California.
"You design and actually physically build a prototype for a one mile test track this summer," said Keating
The students at MUN are focused on working on the prototype's air supply and regulation system.
"Our system comprises of eight scuba tanks, the large scuba tanks, highly pressurized, and this air will flow through regulators which depressurizes the air, brings it to a low pressure, and this will ultimately be supplied to the air skates for levitation."
This is important, said Andrew Way, because the Hyperloop needs air to reach liftoff.
"In an ideal system you would want to have a pure vacuum within your tube, and what that means is that you have no air prohibiting how fast you can move," said Way.
"But unfortunately tubes can't be made perfectly, so the air is inevitably in the tube and so we use this air for levitation. We take the air in and we compress it and we send to the (air) skates."
Presenting prototype this summer
Open Loop will present their prototype this summer at a competition in California.
In Way's eyes, the Hyperloop is the future of transportation.
"If you look at Hyperloop now... if you heard about it two years ago, it probably sounded like something you'd see on a TV show, something that wasn't really real," he said.
"It's no longer just an idea. It's no longer just science fiction."
While the Hyperloop may be inching closer to reality, it will still take time before it comes to fruition.
"Now it's just a fact of actually testing it and proving it's feasibility," said Keating
"Once that's proven, then it comes down to an economic game as to where is it best to locate, how do we actually set this up and then actually doing the tube construction amongst the landscape between different cities."
If it all comes together, Keating said Newfoundlanders and Labradorians might be able to look forward to a high-speed link between the island's west and east coast in the future.
"You'd be able to live in Corner Brook, enjoy skiing and enjoy the hiking and all the scenery, and work in St. John's and honestly it wouldn't take any longer than it takes to drive from CBS now to downtown St. John's to work," he said.
"It's a truly revolutionary thing."