TransPod FluxJet to Zip Between Calgary and Edmonton in 45 Minutes

This sounds absolutely wonderful, but please don't call it a hyperloop.

Fluxjet transpod


TransPod, formerly known as TransPod Hyperloop, unveiled the FluxJet—"an industry-defining innovation that transforms the way we live, work, and travel." According to the recent announcement made in Toronto, this is entirely new technology promising affordability, speed, and reduced carbon footprint.

"Based on groundbreaking innovations in propulsion and fossil-fuel-free clean energy systems, the FluxJet is a fully electric vehicle that is effectively a hybrid between an aircraft and a train," said the company in a statement. "Featuring technological leaps in contactless power transmission and a new field of physics called veillance flux, the FluxJet travels in a protected guideway at over 1000 km/h – faster than a jet and three times as fast as a high-speed train."

The word "hyperloop" appears to have been expunged from the company. Even its website address has been changed to eliminate the word, which is encouraging. I have previously defined hyperloopism as "a crazy new and unproven technology which nobody is sure will work, that probably isn't better or cheaper than the way things are done now, and is often counterproductive and used as an excuse to actually do nothing at all."

But TransPod is actually doing something. It is commencing work on a route in Canada from Calgary to Edmonton, the two largest cities in Alberta, separated by 185 miles of killer highway. The FluxJet will fly between them in a steel tube in about 45 minutes.

“This milestone is a major leap forward,” said TransPod co-founder and CTO Ryan Janzen. “The FluxJet is at a nexus of scientific research, industrial development, and massive infrastructure to address passengers’ needs and reduce our dependence on fossil-fuel-heavy jets and highways.”

Transpod in Alberta


The Alberta feasibility study describes the technology:

"The vehicles are computer-controlled and operated autonomously, enhancing passenger safety by eliminating human piloting errors. The system operates in a near-vacuum enclosed tube environment, making air resistance much lower than in the outside environment. The vehicles are propelled by linear induction engines, which are powered by fully electric energy. These powerful engines, with fluxjet technology, operating in a near-vacuum environment, enables passenger and cargo vehicles to travel at over 1000 km/h [620 MPH]."

The study notes it is not using expensive superconducting magnetic levitation but is using "active levitation achieved through magnetic engines located on the vehicle." It explained that "similar to linear induction motors on some trains, these generate thrust and braking and maintain the vehicle position along the guideway."

Screen capture from video


The press release described "a new field of physics called veillance flux," but this term does not appear in the Alberta feasibility study and isn't defined. A search on the term came up with a paper co-authored by Janzen and Steve Mann, a computer science pioneer at the University of Toronto, which has absolutely nothing to do with transportation. It described veillance as "watching" and a veillance flux as a sort of density of information defined as "an aggregate spatial integral of bidirectional reflectance distribution functions."

Janzen's doctoral thesis submitted to the University of Toronto defines veillance flux as "the quantified capacity-to-sense 'emitted' from sensors, as that capacity-to-sense propagates through space, reflects, refracts and scatters." Again, it appears to be talking about light and information, not transportation.

In this compilation video, Janzen described how they are getting electricity to the unit: plasma, like the Northern Lights. "It's groundbreaking," said Janzen.

According to Hyperloop Hype, "With eight engines, 11 computers, hundreds of sensors and computer enabled vision onboard, the Fluxjet is so named because it harnesses three forms of so-called ‘flux’: veillance flux, magnetic flux, and electric flux." They like how TransPod moved away from the term hyperloop: "No doubt due the intensive anti-musk/anti-hyperloop campaigns waged by media companies employed by transport industry leaders who live in unnecessary fear of the technology." The last time I checked, transport industry leaders did not employ Treehugger.

Many are excited about this. “TransPod completely changes the game with ultra high-speed, zero-emission passenger travel and freight transportation between major gateway cities,” said Yung Wu, CEO of MaRS Discovery District, in a statement. “It is time for bold action from our policymakers, investors, and operators to support the commercialization of made-in-Canada innovations like TransPod, to win in the multi-trillion dollar global innovation economy.”

coming into Toronto


I am excited about this too, desperate for the day when I can zip from Montreal to Toronto in 45 minutes instead of four hours in a teeth-rattling train or being stuck on the highway. But I have watched the videos, I have read the briefs, and I still conclude it looks and smells hyperloopy. And adding a veillance flux to the mix just makes it hyperloopier.

Commenters often disagree when I complain about this technology, suggesting, "The curmudgeon gene is expressed strongly." But we are talking about a country that won't spend the money to string an electric wire over a dedicated railway line and now is going to run pods with plasma-powered triple-fluxed linear induction motors for 185 miles inside a vacuum tube. Call me a curmudgeon, but I suspect we will be traveling in vehicles powered by flux capacitors before we ride in this.