When Elon Musk shared the details about his Hyperloop transportation system idea in August, few bothered to read the 58-page document that laid out how it might work. But a team at an engineering simulation software company did, and their new models show that Hyperloop could happen.
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Sandeep Sovani and his colleagues from the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based engineering simulation software company Ansys jumped on plans soon after Musk shared a blog post and detailed PDF for a subsonic, partially evacuated cylindrical tube transportation system to take passengers between LA to San Francisco in 35 minutes. Sovani, a transportation expert at the company, told me he has been thinking about tube transit for more than a decade.
Partly out of intellectual and scientific curiosity, and partly because they wanted to be ready from a business perspective, Sovani's team plugged Musk's plans into a computer model. These kinds of virtual models simulate real physics, Sovani explained to me. They help engineers designing new products who want to know what happens, for example, when a smartphone gets dropped on a hard floor. It saves them from building flawed prototypes.