‘Like a really fast luxury sports car’: first Indian to travel in a hyperloop pod shares his experience


You should see the first commercial routes before the end of the decade, says Tanay Manjrekar of Vigrin Hyperloop who took part last week in a human trial of the hyperloop pod.

Tanay Manjrekar, a Power Electronics Specialist with Virgin Hyperloop earlier this week got the distinction of becoming the first Indian, as part of human trial, in a hyperloop pod that is expected to revolutionise travel in the coming decade. Terming the test ride the culmination of his five years at Virgin Hyperloop, Mr. Manjrekar was hopeful of deploying the first hyperloop in India. Promoted by Richard Branson, Virgin Hyperloop is planning to have hyperloop projects in Mumbai-Pune and Bengaluru.

How was the overall experience?

It has been a fantastic experience for me personally. It feels like the culmination of five years of hard work at Virgin Hyperloop. The ride was a reflection of the progress we have made over such a short duration of time. I feel extremely proud to represent my country in this historic moment and grateful to have this opportunity. Really hopeful about the future for hyperloop as the new mode of transport across the globe.

What’s the feeling inside — the air availability, the vibration, noise, friction, lighting? Is it similar to that of an airplane in anyway?

The journey was exhilarating to say the least. It is in fact a very smooth ride. The pod accelerates at a comfortable rate and once we reach the desired speed, the pod slows down safely.

It is fairly quiet inside the pod and it feels like you are riding a really fast luxury sports car. It was a very comfortable journey and that has been the goal for us. To make it as comfortable and easy for people to use it.

Were you allowed to stand up, walk or use the toilet while travelling in the pod?

This would be a realistic case for a commercial deployment since the routes would be longer. But for the trial, the journey was only 15 seconds there was really no need or time for such activities.

How long was your travel time?

We had a top speed of 47.96 m/s or 171.68 kph. The total run time was 15 seconds and covered a total distance of 396 metres.

Were you alone and was it scary?

I wasn’t alone! I had my awesome co-passenger Anne. If I wasn’t convinced it was safe do you think I would ride it?! I am very confident in our team and what we have just demonstrated about our safety processes.

This was not just a test; it shows hyperloop is a real transportation mode. The first new one in over 100 years!

How soon do you think it would become a commuting reality?

Next step for us is certification. That would be happening at our recently revealed West Virginia facility. We intend to complete that phase by 2025 and then you should see the first commercial routes before the end of the decade.

Call me biased, but I really hope we make it a reality in India and deploy the first hyperloop route in our country.

Had you done any dummy trial before the actual one?

This was the first human trial at DevLoop and this is my first time on the Hyperloop! We had a complete understanding of the test progression but this was the first time riding in it.

Did you have any external view while being in the pod?

Yes for the XP-2 pod we had one window up front and then one window next to each passenger. I enjoyed the view.

On commercial routes we are still exploring different options to understand what our passengers would feel the most comfortable with. There is a plethora of opportunities to get creative with this aspect of passenger experience.

What is your involvement in the project?

My role at Virgin Hyperloop as a power electronics specialist is particularly focussed on the development of the propulsion and pod dynamics systems.

The high level overview is the hardware development required to convert grid power or any form of energy storage into controlled power to propel and control the pod’s motion.

For Pegasus, I was responsible to evaluate the safety functions and requirements of the propulsion system and design the necessary control measures to make the pod safe for human travel.

This included failure analysis and the implementation of redundant systems?

Our goal with Pegasus was to put a person inside a pod which translates into safety measures at all levels of the systems. The implementation resulted in a robust reliable propulsion system, which can detect and protect the system and occupants in the rare case of any malfunctions.

Safety and methodical design practices have been one of our shining achievements during the Pegasus program.

The reason for not being nervous or scared about riding it was because of the trust in the work that our team has put into this project. Countless hours of reviews and in-depth safety analysis of the entire system has led to this moment where everyone on the team feels confident in the work they have done and in the safety of the passengers.



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Sagar Biswas

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