The glasses press a little on the nose. To do this, the two-seater in the industrial hall in the middle of Delft expands into an entire train compartment as soon as you put it on: 60 seats can be seen at once in the augmented reality application. All of them are reminiscent of Italian design wing chairs from Vitra. It smells of fresh leather. A voice in your ear that explains how the Hyperloop will one day work. Above the simulation of a starry sky. The developers can adjust it depending on the time of day so that travelers get a feel for the time.
But the most important thing is missing - unfortunately: the simulation is only static, nothing moves. There remains the vague feeling that the whole thing must feel like a roller coaster ride.
Juliette de la Rie, spokeswoman for the Hardt company that designed this Hyperloop prototype, shakes her head with a laugh: Overall, the Hyperloop can reach speeds of up to 1,000 kilometers per hour - that always depends on the route. The hyperloops, in which we will later travel or send goods, then, depending on the route, sometimes "only" drive between 500 and 700 kilometers per hour. To avoid the roller coaster effect, the acceleration of the futuristic train is spread over several kilometers - according to de la Rie, the whole thing should feel smooth and jerk-free.
Hardt's team isn't the only one working on developing a hyperloop. Your best-known competitor is Elon Musk: With Tesla, the visionary tech entrepreneur has already startled the automotive industry, with his company The Boring Company he now wants to build an underground express train - and thus reinvent another element of mobility.
There are also other projects, for example in France, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands. But Hardt is quite far with the test channel. At least further than the Technical University of Munich, which often won Elon Musk's Hyperloop competitions - and recently made headlines with the news that a test track was being set up there. What Munich is aiming for in 2021 is already a reality in Delft today.
Comfortable armchair, but no window
In the company's showroom - Alfred Nobel's face on the wall with the question "who's next?" - so it stands: the prototype of the hyperloop. The two wing chairs in the capsule face each other, with a table in between. Windows are missing, the Hyperloop finally drives in tubes. That is why there is a digital travel display on the wall that shows the remaining travel time, the speed and the outside temperature.
How the technology works can be guessed at a few kilometers from the capsule on the Delft University campus. The 30 meter long test tunnel in which the technology was successfully tested is located here. In principle, everything is based on magnetism: Held between two guide rails, the Hyperloop floats in a vacuum. The train can start up and brake by specifically switching electromagnets on and off above the guide rail. What sets Hardt's Hyperloop apart from the other projects is the option of changing lanes: Also thanks to the magnets, the Hyperloop can dock at the right or left branches depending on the desired direction. This does not require any moving parts, as is the case with conventional pull systems.
The technology itself could be tested in the 30-meter-long test tunnel, but Hardt has not yet been able to test the speed there - the tunnel is simply too short for that. That is why the company is currently building a nearly three kilometer long tunnel in Groningen. It should be completed in 2022, the first tests with travelers, but will only take place in the second half of this decade. So it will take a while before you can really sit down in a hyperloop and feel the speed. Until then, traveling in the Hyperloop is still a dream of the future, but one that is getting louder and louder.