|Industry||High-speed rail, Clean technology|
TransPod Inc. is a Canadian company designing ultra-high-speed transportation technology and vehicles.
TransPod vehicles are being designed to travel at over 1000 km/h (620 mph) between cities, using fully electric propulsion to carry passengers and cargo. The proposed system would create a faster and carbon-free alternative to jets and automobiles. The TransPod pods are designed to travel through a tube guideway which is similar to a hyperloop system, with variations based on magnetic levitation rather than air bearings to promote vehicle stability.
In November 2016 TransPod raised a $15 million USD seed round from Angelo Investments, an Italian high-tech holding group specializing in advanced technologies for the railway, space, and aviation industries. It has since expanded from Toronto, Canada, to open offices in Toulouse, France, and Bari, Italy.
In September 2017, a paper by TransPod was published in the Procedia Engineering conference proceedings. The paper was presented at the EASD EURODYN 2017 conference, and introduces basic design elements of the TransPod system.
The TransPod tube system is being developed to carry vehicles at speeds greater than 1000km/h. Announced in 2016, the TransPod system contains aerodynamic and propulsion systems to reduce friction compared to trains, automobiles and jets, and to carry passengers at a faster speed. TransPod's technology is designed to be compatible with renewable energies including solar generation, supplemented by regional electrical grid connection link-ups. TransPod states the purpose of this is for reduced carbon emissions.
The TransPod tube system is distinct from the hyperloop concept proposed by Elon Musk's Hyperloop Alpha white paper.[a] Unlike hyperloop, the TransPod system uses moving electromagnetic fields to propel the vehicles with stable levitation off the bottom surface, rather than compressed air.
Passenger vehicles include seating, while cargo vehicles have a loadable interior. Each vehicle includes an aircraft-like fuselage pressurized for atmospheric air circulation and control – and includes propulsion, guidance and control systems to operate at speeds exceeding 1000km/h within a protected tube guideway. The tubes are twinned to permit bidirectional vehicle travel.
The cargo transport TransPod pods are designed to carry payloads of 10–15 tons and have compatibility with wooden pallets, as well as various unit load devices such as LD3 containers, and AAA containers.
The vehicle's front has an axial compressor to reduce air resistance when moving through the tube. Even in low air pressure, a small amount of air exists in the tube which would otherwise cause drag forces at high speed. This compressor diverts airflow at high speed through ducts in the vehicle out through exhaust nozzles in the back thus reducing the effect of drag on the pod.
At high speed, the vehicle's dynamic forces are controlled by an internal guidance system. Deviations of the vehicle's trajectory are sensed and tracked by a combination of inertial sensors and optical sensors. TransPod's systems use sense-space processing and real-time computer vision algorithms.
At the InnoTrans Rail Show 2016 in Berlin, TransPod premiered their vehicle concept, alongside implementation of Coelux technology – an artificial skylight to emulate natural sunlight within the passenger pods.
Test track in France
In January 2017 TransPod announced plans for a test track to be constructed in the village of Droux near Limoges in collaboration with the French department of Haute-Vienne. The proposed test track would exceed 3km in length, and operate as a half-scale system 2m in diameter. In February 2018, Vincent Leonie, vice president of Limoges Métropole and a deputy mayor of Limoges, announced that agreements for the "Hyperloop Limoges" organization have been signed to promote and accelerate the technology.
Funding & Partnerships
In November 2016, TransPod secured $15 million USD in seed funding from Angelo Investments. As part of the partnership, Angelo Investment's member companies SITAEL, MERMEC, and Blackshape Aircraft will become key industrial partners with TransPod, collaborating with the development and testing of the TransPod tube system.
TransPod's Italian office in Bari, Italy is home to commercial and industrial partners from Angelo Investments. TransPod is working there with SITAEL, Blackshape and MERMEC for testing and development.
TransPod's French office is located in Toulouse, a hub for the European aerospace industry. TransPod is additionally partnered with IKOS, an engineering firm, and REC Architecture which are also both centered in the Toulouse area.
Sebastien Gendron is the CEO and co-founder of TransPod.
Planned Transportation Routes
TransPod has plans to develop routes worldwide, and is designing line configurations between international cities. For example in Canada, TransPod lines are being designed for Toronto-Montreal, Toronto-Windsor, and Toronto-Waterloo corridors in Ontario and Quebec, as well as the Calgary-Edmonton corridor in Alberta, Canada. TransPod is preparing to build a test track for the pod vehicles in Canada. This track will be extendable as part of a full route pending a combination of private and public funding to construct the line.
In June 2017, the first designs were unveiled for a TransPod station, based in a future transportation hub in Downtown Toronto at the Port Lands district. In June 2017, the governments of Toronto, Ontario and Canada announced a joint funding plan of $1.185 billion to revitalize this area with new developments and infrastructure. TransPod's station design is being developed in partnership with REC Architecture.
In July 2017, TransPod released an initial cost study which outlines the viability of building a hyperloop line in Southwestern Ontario between the cities of Windsor and Toronto. The Government of Ontario announced an environmental assessment for a high-speed-rail line along this route in May 2017 for the same corridor. The study indicates a TransPod tube system would cost half the projected cost of a high-speed rail line along the same route, while operating at more than four times the top speed of high speed rail.
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