For those of you who might not be acquainted, the Hyperloop is a theoretical transportation vehicle originally proposed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, which would transport passengers in capsules that travel through giant vacuum tubes. Kept aloft by a combination of magnets and air jets, Hyperloop capsules could theoretically travel at speeds greater than 700 mph. Of course, such speeds will require that the capsules be especially secure — which is precisely why Hyperloop startups like HTT are turning to cutting edge materials like Vibranium.
In the Marvel universe, Vibranium is a rare metal of alien origin found in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, home to another Marvel superhero, Black Panther. Vibranium can absorb any energy and vibrations it comes into contact with, making it perfect for shields and armor.
Needless to say, HTT is not actually using Marvel’s fictional metal, or anything close to it. The material is a carbon-fiber coating, which HTT claims is ten times stronger than steel. Given the success of Marvel’s film Captain America: Civil War — which features both the titular hero and Black Panther–the Vibranium name may come across as a bit of opportunistic branding.
The most important detail about the material is that it will be embedded with sensors, which will enable the pod to gather information about temperature, hull stability, and other crucial details, and transmit that data to the Hyperloop operator.
The company developed the material in collaboration with Slovakian materials manufacturer c2i. This is not HTT’s only interaction with Slovakia; earlier this year, the company signed an agreement with the Slovakian government to begin research into the feasibility of a Hyperloop system connecting Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest.
HTT’s announcements come at a time of great competition among Hyperloop developers. Rival company Hyperloop One recently showed off its own prototype capsule at a test track near Las Vegas. HTT, meanwhile, has yet to demo a working prototype for the public.
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