A Hyperloop Company Is Lining Its Pods with Metal from Captain America

Hyperloop
Journalists and guests look over tubes following a propulsion open-air test at Hyperloop One in North Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. May 11, 2016. Steve Marcus/Reuters

Earlier this month outside of Las Vegas, a company called Hyperloop One carried out the first tests of the high-speed Hyperloop transportation technology. Initially conceived by SpaceX founder Elon Musk as the "fifth mode of transport," the Hyperloop would revolutionize modern travel by sucking a pod through a tube at nearly 800 miles mph. It's kind of like if a bunch of people climbed into one of those cylindrical capsules at the bank, but instead of traveling from behind a desk to the window of your car, the Hyperloop would carry passengers from, say, San Francisco to Los Angeles in a matter of minutes.

Hyperloop One's test was open to public viewing and featured one of its pods accelerating to 116 mph in only 1.1 seconds before crashing into a pile of sand (they haven't quite figured out the brakes). But Hyperloop One is only one of the companies racing to turn Musk's vision from pipe dream (pun intended) into reality. Its principal competitor is Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), which on Tuesday revealed that their capsules would be lined with a special kind of smart carbon fiber they are calling vibranium.

If this sounds familiar, it's because vibranium is the material that makes Captain America's shield indestructible. It can also be found in Wakanda, the African nation home to Black Panther. In other words, vibranium is a fictional metal. Until now, that is.

HTT's version of vibranium may not be able to withstand the types of beatings Captain America's shield has endured over the years, but it will be strong. According to HTT, it is eight times stronger than aluminum and 10 times stronger than steel alternatives. It will be applied to the exterior of the company's Hyperloop pods as a dual coating embedded with sensors that can instantly relay vital information about temperature, stability and more. Earlier this year, HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn told Newsweek that his company aims to have a passenger-ready Hyperloop constructed by 2018.

HTT and Hyperloop One are able to pursue making the Hyperloop a reality so aggressively because Musk insisted on open-sourcing the designs and technology, and it's the competition between the two companies that could bring the Hyperloop into existence sooner rather than later. It's unlikely that the U.S. would have put a man on the moon as soon as it did if the Soviet Union wasn't racing to do the same on the other side of the world. The same principle of competition is in effect today with the Hyperloop. This isn't a stagnating governmental works project.

Fortunately for the fate of humanity, neither HTT nor Hyperloop One has an arsenal of nuclear weapons at their disposal, only technology that could result in the most life-changing transportation innovation since the airplane.

A Hyperloop Company Is Lining Its Pods with Metal from Captain America | Culture