In the race to save the planet, the technology powering Virgin Hyperloop potentially could lead the charge in reducing the carbon impact of global transportation, one of the largest contributors to climate change, by more than 25 percent, according to Virgin Hyperloop CEO and co-founder Josh Giegel.
"Transportation is the largest emitter in the U.S., it's about 29 percent," Giegel told Cheddar. "So things like electric vehicles, last mile, ride-sharing, all of those things are making a dent."
Virgin Hyperloop uses an electric propulsion system to transport pods from one place to another through a low-pressure tube. Giegel said that the pods can transport people or goods at the speed of conventional airplanes while consuming 10 times less energy.
"But we need to look at mass transportation systems for people, for cargo and that's the opportunity for hyperloop, is that we can live in this century and the next century with technology that allows us to move at these speeds and save this amount of time without having to, i'll say, destroy the planet around us," he said. "It's really sustainability without sacrifice."
The pods also would be able to seat 25 to 35 passengers, take them directly to their destinations without making additional stops, and the service would be "on-demand," allowing passengers to move at their own pace without sticking to a strict departure schedule, according to the CEO. Giegel and colleague Sara Luchian were the first live passengers to test the technology in November of last year.
As global communities continue to seek transportation options that are more climate-conscious, Giegel said he expects technologies similar to Virgin Hyperloop to become more mainstream. He pointed to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the environment, which led to a reduction in greenhouse gas pollution and even exposed a need for speedier, efficient transportation for vaccine distribution.
"The focus on sustainability, I think, is really, really refreshing and that there's opportunity like here in the U.S. or wherever it might be to 'build back better,' to use the technology of the future to, I'll say, enable the future that we want, which is fast, it's electric, it's clean," he said. "I'm just seeing a much more rapid view on getting people into sustainable modes of transport a heck of a lot faster."