A few weeks ago we saw one Hyperloop start-up company display a small-scale propulsion technology for the 700 mph transportation of our future. Where that company is more focused on cargo transport, the second company, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, is tackling human transport—and it looks a little too cozy.
Following the propulsion demonstration earlier this month I talked about how the future still promises to be boring. I get bored by riding in a car for hours at a time, or on a train, or in a plane. I had imagined that riding in an enclosed tube, 700 miles per hour or not, would be just as boring.
And based on today’s preview of the transportation pods Hyperloop Transportation Technologies revealed today, not only will it be just like riding a boring old train, but it will also be an extremely tight fit. It’s not like humans not fitting in seats is already a popular issue in public transportation, right? Oh, no wait, that’s wrong.
Just look at these photos from The Verge of the current concept for HTT’s human Hyperloop pods:
Look at that aisle! Those seats! What the hell is this?
Okay first the nitpicking—that is not an aisle so much as it is a social-anxiety inducing violation of personal space for everyone involved. What is that, like a foot wide? Will I be carrying luggage? It doesn’t even look like I can lift my arms!
Now for the serious issue—the seats. Simply put, this is not going to work out for the average American. Or even the average human adult!
Of course this is just a concept visualization. It’s a little difficult to tell just how large the dimensions are, but we don’t have a human model to go off of. With everything in reference to each component, things look tight.
My issues with the seats:
- The width does not look wide enough. We already have issues with people having to purchase two airplane tickets and get belt extenders. These seats do not even appear wide enough to comfortably accommodate a college quarterback.
- Lean with it, I guess. Look at the awkward wall in the seat! What’s wrong with the airplane style of sharing an armrest? I’d rather fight to have both arms on a rest of some-sort than only have the option for one arm resting comfortably! It sounds silly but, on a four hour journey, your back and neck and are going to start to ache from leaning over.
- I’m not done talking about those stupid dividers. They cut off at head-level, so what is the point? If I can still get sneezed on, but now lack the ability for my arm to also get sneezed on (in a comfortable position), what is the point in putting up the divider anyway? Grant me full privacy or more comfort, not this abomination that strips away both.
- Is there no seat adjustability? Why am I on a Hyperloop and not an airplane again? I’d never thought I would seriously consider a plane-seat experience to be marginally better than travelling 700 miles per hour, but here I am.
Let’s move on from the ridiculous comfort-deficient seating and focus on the rest of the Hyperloop experience we can gather from this video, also released today:
We get a conceptual preview on how the company plans to approach the issue of being encapsulated from the outside world on your journey with “augmented windows.”
These windows work to provide a virtual display of what you’re currently passing by, tracking your face to provide a realistic window-going experience. The panels displaying the view are interactive, allowing the user to check the weather, the speed of the Hyperloop, the time and a map of the journey. I’m sure there would also be the option to turn them off for napping. (You’ll notice the seats in this video are likely just a pre-visualization before the company settled on a solid concept.)
And that is the future, I guess? Again, we can’t fully judge the design just yet as we’re really, very, extremely far off from hitching a ride in a Hyperloop from any company.
Maybe it will never even happen. But if it does happen, I’m going to go on record and say I fully expect that aisle to widen and the dividers to shrink or completely disappear before anybody is zipping across states faster than it takes for a line to buildup on the on-board restroom.