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Virgin Hyperloop completes first test ride with passengers

Virgin Hyperloop completes first test ride with passengers
© Virgin Hyperloop/Facebook

Virgin Hyperloop completed its first test ride with passengers on board the high-speed transportation system on Sunday, the company announced.

The test with Josh Giegel, co-founder and chief technology officer, and Sarah Luchian, director of passenger experience, as passengers took place at Virgin Hyperloop's test site in Las Vegas. The company has previously run more than 400 unoccupied tests at the site.

“I can’t tell you how often I get asked ‘is hyperloop safe?’ ” Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop, said in the announcement. “With today’s passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question, demonstrating that not only can Virgin Hyperloop safely put a person in a pod in a vacuum environment, but that the company has a thoughtful approach to safety which has been validated by an independent third party.”

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The first test ride with passengers comes about a month after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced plans for a new Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center in the state. Work on the new development is expected to begin in 2021.

Hyperloop transportation aims to cut cross-country land travel by moving people and goods through a vacuum at speeds of up to 670 mph. During Sunday’s test ride, the pod reached a top speed of about 107 mph, according to a Virgin Hyperloop spokesperson.

The length of the 500-meter test track limited the speed of the test ride, the spokesperson noted, adding that the company expects to achieve faster speeds at the Hyperloop Certification Center.

The passengers in the test ride rode in a pod custom built with occupant safety and comfort in mind, the company said. The production of the vehicle will get larger and seat up to 28 passengers, as opposed to the two-seater the test passengers rode in.

--Updated at 10:49 a.m.