For the Hyperloop transportation system proposed by Elon Musk earlier in 2013, Rustem Baishev of RB Systems presents an integrated design vision both for a station and a passenger pod. The station's design is as of now speculative and is not tied to a specific location, due to yet uncertain public intent in commissioning such building; nonetheless - with a firm promise of such intent to arise in the foreseeable future - there is a strong sense in exploring its potential layouts. With no previous precedents in such building typology, many spatial and programmatic concepts had to be invented. Likely, they will continue to be subjects for testing until a reasonable worldwide standard in such typology is established. For now, RB Systems took an exploratory road and made a detailed proposal for a station that formulates key-features of passengers' and pods' logistics, which is believed to be the factor of an utmost influence over a station's design.
The expected pod's travel speed of nearly 1200 km/h is a well-known item for discussion leading to many engineering challenges in the tube's design. But the greater issue for designing a Hyperloop station's layout is that proposed rate of departures / arrivals is too very rapid in its own respect, estimated to be at 1 pod per minute. Meaning that complete pod's handling - to include many various operations - must be performed within such an extremely short amount of time. Besides of a vast degree of automation, it would require a well-thought-out sequence of spaces, and to our firm believe, an absolutely necessary change in levels to separate arriving and departing vehicles. Level difference is pretty much the only mean to make such a demanding pace of throughput achievable - otherwise a station's footprint would have to grow sideways extensively. In this concept, once a pod enters the station's interior space after being cleared at a pressurized airlock, it is put on an automated cart that carries it through the tracks to a designated platform. From this point the throughput is organized as a queue, and after passengers leave the pod, the vehicle then proceeds to enter the service block to undergo unloading of luggage, after which it is put on a turntable elevator, which then lifts it to an upper level. It is at this upper level the pod is finally prepared for departure, change of batteries and supplies, loaded with a luggage again and is released to proceed to departure platforms for passengers to board. After that, the pod is ready to leave; the sequence of departures/arrivals is managed by an automatic dispatching system.
ROBUST, LONG LIFE-SPAN, MINIMUM MAINTENANCE RAILSHIFT
One of the key-features of the design is the method proposed for separation of the vehicular flow through the station - an answer on how to connect a single exit from the tube with at least 20 platforms. An initial analysis had revealed that mechanical applications, especially exposed ones, involving rotary systems, elevating systems - might likely be subject to jams affecting the scheduled queue operations in a domino effect, and may also require a constant surveillance and a frequent maintenance. A robust, composite concrete-made rail shift - even if being a conventional system - is a solution proven by time, requires minimal service, and allows for a streamlined operation, through which all the pods travel on automated carts, making it easy to remove a faulty vehicle from the queue. This is a signature part of RB Systems' design, which dictated the station's layout and overall form. It is also believed that the rail shift has to absolutely occur inside of a station, after an airlock, since that shifting tracks within the tube would result in a significant engineering challenge.
MASSIVE SPATIAL RESERVE FOR PRESSURIZATION EQUIPMENT AND SAFETY SYSTEMS
An amount of machinery required for provision and maintenance of pressurization in an airlock is yet unknown, therefore a considerable space reserve was laid out surrounding the area where the tube enters the station. The machinery and other necessary equipment is to be housed within the station's "beads", parts of which are made of soil that was excavated to form the station's "bowl" - a zone which is covered by the glass dome. The "beads" are paneled by vast arrays of photovoltaics to generate energy. This makes the station to be "submerged" in landscape.
LARGE SAFETY ZONE THAT SEPARATES PLATFORMS FROM THE TUBE'S ENTRANCE
The potential safety risks of dealing with vacuum and such a rapid movement of vehicles through a station are not yet formulated; most likely, they are to be considerably high. As a mean of safety, the entire zone in-between the platforms and the tube's exit is made inaccessible for passengers. It is a space reserve, provided with applications to remove faulty pods from the queue.
The goal for the interior atmosphere was to become truly a celebration of pure excitement of travel using a forefront technology. An airport, as well as a conventional train station - are usually the typologies which are expressive the most, and serve as a "face" to a city in which a traveler arrives. The goal was to design a spacious, bright-colored interior filled with light, formal enough and spiritually uplifting, in almost space-age aesthetics, symbolizing a technological breakthrough that the Hyperloop is. The navigation is made easy, with timetables located simply above each track. The service block is separated from the station's interior by a transparent storefront, making passengers able to see the pods being handled by intricate machinery. A spacious waiting hall provides leisure facilities such as cafeterias, and opens up to captivating panoramic views of the entire station's interior. The glass composition and PV cells that are molded within the glass assembly do protect the interior space from an excessive solar heat gain.
An experimental structural system is proposed, which is a space-truss supported from a perimeter structural ring and four structural funnels; assembled from components made of fiberglass, making the system to be light enough to span for nearly 100m at the largest.
The goal for the pod's design was to come up with a user-friendly, non-aggressively looking machine that would appeal to many categories of travelers; a design that does not remind of a flying engine, but rather an elegant hybrid of an airplane with a high-speed train. A lot of consideration was given to aerodynamics for the nose - the compressor's impeller is exposed and its blades are designed to be bulging out off of design surface to provide boundary layer suction, greatly reducing the surface drag along the entire pod's body behind the impeller; the impeller is housed in a round nacelle that is partially covered by body panels blended with the end of the nose; behind the impeller are also the gills that evacuate an excessive flow and push it against the walls of the tube to provide additional lateral stabilization. The aerodynamic concept is theoretical, but was proven effective in a low-resolution CFD test. The engine's compressor is a spiral volute, in a turbo-like principle, to occupy less space within the vehicle. Propulsion and levitation systems are not addressed in detail, but conceptually laid out as electric and air skis, respectively, in accordance with proposals in the Alpha paper.
THE POD'S INTERIOR
The interior is a no-aisle layout with two rows of seats separated by a central console. The entertainment system is provided at all times controlled from an elbow-pad touch screen. The boarding is performed from both sides. The luggage compartment is located above the cabin, and is accessed only inside of the service block and if passenger doors are closed. The passenger doors are sized rather generously, with hope that further technology development would allow to handle such apertures efficiently from pressurization standpoint.
THE WINDOWS. IN THEORY
Clearly the greatest thing about Hyperloop is the speed. Why not let passengers feel it? Even with many current engineering struggles to make the system real, there might be an ultimate vision that relies on a distant future when technology is proven and advanced enough to implement extreme design features. The windows in both the tube and the pod would allow for actually sensing the speed in relation to landscape objects, which would make Hyperloop even more an exciting experience. For pressurization issues the windows are made to be individual apertures spaced ever so often. The spacing is calculated the same as "frames per second" in movie-making - it is determined what distance the pod travels in one second at every fragment of a route, and this number is then divided by 25 - an amount of FPS that, if played continuously, human eye perceives as a steady image. For a very short moment the windows both in the tube and in the pod would align, and if the pod flies so fast that in one second it passes 25 windows, then the passenger's eye would see an uninterrupted image of the outside. Whether it is a landscape or a city that the pod passes through, it seems as truly entertaining to feel such speed.
Above mentioned are only a few factors which the future station's design will likely be revolving around. With all the excitement that surrounds the Hyperloop system and its disrupting potential, it is likely that we will continue to see many designs addressing its every feature. RB Systems believes in the importance of high-performance, integrated design and the holistic visual characteristic it provides, giving related looks and principles to all the parts ranging from a piece of furniture to a vehicle, a station and, ultimately, to its master planning aspects. RB Systems encourages collaboration and welcomes requests for joining forces with entities that have an ongoing or planned work related to the Hyperloop project.