A 4,000mph super-shuttle that will whisk passengers between London and Edinburgh in just eight MINUTES could be fully operational by 2040 as the dream of hypersonic public transport takes a “gigantic and unprecedented” step closer to reality.
The ‘Hyper Chariot’ uses roller coaster-type technology to catapult car-sized capsules through airless concrete tubes at five times the speed of sound.
It accelerates from 0 to 1,000mph in just 60 seconds using ultra-powerful electric linear motors that provide nearly double the sensation of acceleration as a Boeing 747.
At its maximum velocity of 4,000mph, the Hyper Chariot will zip between London and Edinburgh – among the first national routes – in just over eight minutes, making it the fastest passenger-carrying vehicle on earth.
The same 332-mile journey would take more than seven hours by car, at least four by train, and 1h 10minutes by plane.
Unlike existing modes of transportation, which burn huge quantities of fossil fuel and leave a damaging carbon footprint, Hyper Chariot can be 100 per cent solar-powered and produces zero emissions.
It is also said to be safer than any other form of mechanised transportation, including riding a bicycle.
A spokesman for Hyper Chariot said ticket prices would be “highly competitive”, with fares for London to Edinburgh costing around £100.
There is one drawback, though – no toilet.
The ‘rail gun’ technology is nothing new and its hypersonic speed capabilities were demonstrated in military tests during the 1980s.
But the American brainchild behind the Hyper Chariot network is the first organisation to commercialise the technology for public transportation and entertainment purposes.
It is already developing a full-technology working ‘proof of concept’ demonstrator, ‘The Velocitator, which will be unveiled in 2021.
And it is planning to open a route between London and Edinburgh – as well as routes in the United States and Asia – by 2040.
It heralds a milestone in the development of safe and affordable hypersonic travel, which was first mooted by engineers in the 19th-Century.
Hyper Chariot’s President, the Hollywood actor Matthew Modine, yesterday described Hyper Chariot as “space travel on Earth” and its pilotless capsules as the “future of global transportation”.
“Transport technology has stagnated since the turn of the 20th century, with the invention of the automobile and plane,” he said.
“For decades, we’ve been waiting for the next revolution. The automation of transportation is the future, but not just through self-driving cars, which will still face the same problems of congestion and environmental pollution that we see today.
“With Hyper Chariot, we are aiming to bring nothing less than space travel on Earth, connecting cities and even countries in a way never before possible.
“It may seem like something out of science fiction but the technology is now available for travel through airless tubes at 4,000mph to become not only a reality, but a daily occurrence for passengers and cargo.”
Modine, the star of blockbusters such as Full Metal Jacket and 47 Meters Down, and Netflix hit series Stranger Things, added: “It will also be the safest form of transport by far.
“Most injuries during travel are caused by human error or adverse weather conditions. Hyper Chariot is self-driving, monitored from a central command centre, and is contained within a tube so the infamous British weather can’t cause any disruptions.”
The idea of travelling at hypersonic speeds in a capsule shot through a depressurised tube was first mooted by inventor Alfred Beach in the 19th Century.
But the prospect became a reality in the late 1990s when American engineer and inventor Daryl Oster was issued his first patent and formed the ET3 Consortium — a group of individuals and corporations from 22 countries that are experts in fields such as quantum levitation and tunnelling.
Oster’s goal was to establish what he coined the ‘global evacuated tube transportation system’, and the technology he devised – including the schematics – were made available under licence.
Hyper Chariot owns ET3 licence #100 and is going to be the first organisation to bring the technology to fruition and into commercial use.
The Hyper Chariot network will use the basic ET3 standard as its “starting point”, employing a team of world-class designers and engineers to develop and customise the technology with a focus on the overall passenger experience.
The company, which will be publishing a series of white papers and feasibility studies within the next 12 months outlining their vision, plans to propel passengers along 5ft-wide cylindrical airless tubes made of 1.3cm-thick reinforced concrete, mounted on 20ft-high pylons, or through underground tunnels for speeds above 500 mph.
Car-like pods, seating a maximum of six adults and children, float above rails using a new type of magnetic levitation , or ‘maglev’, with cryogenically-chilled superconductors that create what is known as ‘quantum levitation,’ which uses no energy or movement of the vehicle to maintain the suspension gap.
This, and the reduced air pressure inside the tubes, significantly reduces friction and allows pods to travel at extraordinarily high speeds in safety.
The entire transport system will be energy self-sufficient thanks to the use of solar panels mounted on the outside of the tunnels, and an ingenious method of recapturing the energy used to accelerate the pods through linear regenerative braking.
It will take three minutes and 100 miles for the pods to reach 4,000mph, and a similar time and distance to decelerate.
Passengers will experience relatively small G-Forces, but will be unable to stand for the duration of their trip because of F1 car-like seating positions.
Each limo-sized pod is pilotless, but the user has the ability to control the vehicle’s destination in much the same way as operating a car’s satellite navigation system.
Individual pods will be able to interchange like cars on a motorway, allowing the passengers to travel to different destinations with ease — or even stop for a loo break en-route.
Passengers will also have full control of the pod’s interior lighting and ambient temperature, and will even be able to choose the ‘outside view’ they enjoy during the ride thanks to augmented-reality windows.
Founder and CEO Nick Garzilli, who joined the ET3 Consortium in 2011, says the Hyper Chariot network should be nationwide by 2050, with the envisioned UK flagship route between the outskirts of north London and south Edinburgh available by 2040.
It is, he said, a “supremely more intelligent and realistic” mode of transport than Hyperloop, the proposed subsonic ‘bus’ by Tesla founder Elon Musk.
He said: “I met with Elon Musk prior to the announcement of Hyperloop Alpha in 2013, and we both share the same vision of electrifying the earth. But with Hyper Chariot leading the field, we can do it in a much more elegant and efficient way.
“Hyper Chariot’s network will provide the personalised mobility of a car without the headaches of traffic and parking. Also you’ll no longer have to wait with large groups of people for a bus, train or plane.
“Hyper Chariot can be integrated into the existing road infrastructure at much less cost and disruption to existing services while providing more value to users.
“A lot of our income goes towards travel, and prices are only going up. Hyper Chariot will disrupt this, being significantly cheaper than any other form of transport out there – including Hyperloop.
“Hyper Chariot fares will be up to 30 per cent cheaper and we will be able to do this because of the smaller manufacturing costs associated with our system, the speed and volume of traffic on our networks, and the spectacular energy-efficiency of the technology.
“And because we are using a car-sized pod rather than a bus-size craft it means passengers will be far more comfortable while they travel. It’s a dream come true for everyone: private limo-style travel at lightening speeds and highly affordable prices.”
Garzilli aims to begin preliminary testing of the system at 4,000 mph within the next 15 years, funded through a mixture of private investment and venture capital.
This will be followed by construction of ‘full-blown’ tube networks in the USA, UK and Europe, starting with smaller regional routes such as London to Manchester or Boston to New York before establishing national lines and — ultimately — international connections.
Its demonstrator vehicle, ‘The Velocitator’, which will travel at speeds of 400mph along a three-mile tube, will be showcased in 2021. Potential locations that have been shortlisted for the ride include Casa Grande, Arizona, as well as sites in Medley, Florida, and Las Vegas.
Tickets for the 400mph ride, which will incorporate an immersive virtual-reality experience themed around the history of transport, have just gone on sale at $25 via crowdfunding website Indiegogo or at www.Hyperchariot.com.
Further showcase projects are also planned to replicate the ‘Velocitator’ in the UK, India, China and other “future tech-leading countries” between 2022 and 2027.
The public, however, will be able to get a sneak peak of hypersonic travel as early as next year with the planned launch of a Velocitator 4,000mph virtual reality experience.
But the wider roll-out of the Hyper Chariot network will depend on obtaining the necessary legal consents in each US state and in each territory worldwide.
Co-founder and COO Joanna Garzilli said “We have to come to the realisation that there’s a quickening in technology. The wealth and convenience created in automated telecommunications and internet will be dwarfed by the automation of transportation.
“To allow this, we need cities and countries to adopt a piece of legislation known as the Solar Mobility Act so we can establish a proper regulatory framework giving privately-funded solar-powered transport networks the ability to share the right-of-way on the roads alongside current infrastructure without displacement.
“Getting governments to act quickly won’t be easy but we’ve already got the law passed in Medley, Florida; Bangalore, India, and pending in the Massachusetts’s legislature.”
Garzilli, a British-born Hollywood coach and author of bestselling spiritual guide Big Miracles published by Harper Collins, added: “Hyper Chariot is dedicated to building these systems around the world and networking them together at current airline speeds and then at hypersonic speed.
“The most important aspect of the technology is that it’s all built to the same optimised standards so the national systems can be connected internationally at much higher speeds.
“The Velocitator is going to be the public’s first physical experience of the Hyper Chariot technology. It will be a fully-interactive ride that takes just 18 seconds to reach 400mph at 1G of acceleration. In the second of the three miles, the capsule will coast at 400mph and demonstrate that it can change lanes like a car merging onto a motorway. During the last mile, it will decelerate and recapture all the energy back.
“Before that, however, we plan to release a virtual reality game simulating a 4,000mph Hyper Chariot ride. The feedback we get from the public will help us tweak the design of the actual craft.
“What begins as an entertainment ride for early adopters will progress into a global network system of integrated tubes connecting strategically located portals or hubs.
“Our aim is to intersect entertainment, technology and travel with the ultimate goal of turning the world, in a sense, into one big amusement park open to all.”