WASHINGTON — Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus is becoming a hotbed for Silicon Valley ideas.
On the heels of news that Google is testing Chipotle Mexican Grill food delivery with drones on campus, comes an announcement that Virginia Tech will build a test track for its Hyperloop pod prototype, the first of its kind on the East Coast.
A group of Virginia Tech students recently advanced in an international competition for submitting plans for a pod prototype for the Hyperloop project, a vacuum tube that, in theory, could reach speeds in excess of 700 miles per hour.
It is the vision of Tesla founder Elon Musk.
Virginia Tech placed fourth in the competition and will get to demonstrate its pod on the 1-mile testing track at SpaceX in Hawthorne, Calif.
“The concept of Hyperloop is high-speed transportation through pods in enclosed tubes,” said Stefan Duma, interim director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech.
“The first Hyperloop is envisioned to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco, and you could transport there in about 30 minutes.”
The track on the Blacksburg campus will not be a vacuum tube, but rather an open-rail track that will allow students to test things such as acceleration, breaking and vibration.
Details of the track design, its length and a timeline for completing it have not yet been determined.
What would be hurled through a vacuum tube in a pod at 700 miles per hour feel like?
“Right now, we’re looking at approximately 2-Gs of acceleration, which is a lot but tolerable,” Duma said. “You’ll see higher than that in some amusement park rides.”