A metal sled picked pace to cross 110 kph, achieved levitation and flew over 100 metres in a long steel tube with almost no air inside it. This was pretty much how the first full system test of the system by Hyperloop One looked like. While the numbers might sound ordinary, the event was a big step towards carrying cargo and passengers at high speeds in vacuum using electromagnetic propulsion.
The reason it was significant because the teams working towards the goal have tested and showcased different parts of the system but this was the first test of the full system and actually very close to how the final system is supposed to work. This was a validation that Hyperloop One is facing in the right direction.
Hyperloop One used a sled for this test which was basically the frame for the pod which they also finished recently. After the recent full systems tests at 70 mph, they are hard at work again to use the new pod XP-1 to run tests at up to 250 mph (400 kph). They are looking at aggressive timelines to achieve that and are hoping to do that sometime this year only. Approaching the recent test, they had to re-engineer components to work in the vacuum.
Parallel to this, the team is also working to forge partnerships with governments around the world to test and deploy the final system once it takes shape. Feasibility studies are currently underway in the United Arab Emirates, Finland and Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Moscow, and the UK.Also, building things at such massive scale to offer an entirely new form of transportation would require support from governments. It is not possible to build an extended infrastructure for transportation if the government is not willing to have that.
Of course, this is still very far from a real transportation network we can use. There are scaling challenges that will vary widely across the regions they are looking to deploy once they have the final solution. Hyperloop needs to deliver on the idea of a fuss free, fast and clean option for intercity travel and Hyperloop One is trying to achieve just that. Anything short of that might then face pressure from the evolution existing transportation channels are also undergoing.