Hyperloop One pod in Nevada testing facility

Hyperloop One gets major investment boost from Branson’s Virgin Group

Image credit: Hyperloop One

Virgin Group has invested an undisclosed amount in Hyperloop One, a company attempting to make the futuristic mode of transport a reality. The company has now been rebranded as “Virgin Hyperloop One”.

Hyperloop One, based in Los Angeles, is the frontrunner among companies trying to bring to life the concept of hyperloop transportation. In a hyperloop system, magnetically levitated pods containing cars, cargo or passengers would be flung through tubes containing near-vacuums at aeroplane speeds. This could allow journeys across countries to be completed in minutes.

The arrival of hyperloop transport, Hyperloop One executives have claimed, could be as revolutionary as the birth of the internet.

This idea was first conceived in August 2013 by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, while he was stuck in traffic and pondering alternative forms of transport. Musk extended the idea into a white paper and invited other innovators to attempt to make it a reality.

Since then, numerous start-ups have appeared, dedicated to developing the challenging technology, and Musk himself has returned to the idea, stating that, via his “Boring Company”, he would begin digging underground tunnels through the US in which hyperloops could be installed.

Despite some interest in the technology, questions still linger about its expense, its safety – particularly given the significantly accelerated speeds at which passengers could be travelling – and the practicality of building these enormous transport links across countries.

Hyperloop One claims to be the only company in the world to have built a working hyperloop system. It has completed a brief but successful full-scale test run on a test track, and aims to build a hyperloop system in India which could go live as early as 2021, providing cross-country journeys at speeds of up to 250mph. It is also in discussions for projects in Northern Europe, the Middle East and Canada.

The company announced that it had acquired $85m funding in September and with Virgin’s investment it will add the Virgin name to its brand, becoming Virgin Hyperloop One. Hyperloop One’s co-founders have previously worked with Virgin Galactic, Branson’s spaceflight company.

“[We are] delighted to announce Virgin Group’s investment in Hyperloop One – the world’s most revolutionary train service,” an announcement on Virgin’s website said. “This is an incredibly innovative and exciting new way to move people and things at airline speeds on the ground.”

The statement added that the hyperloop would be all-electric, and a “responsible and sustainable” form of transport.

In a blog post, Hyperloop One's co-founders commented: “A partnership with Hyperloop One feels like a natural fit […] Virgin’s purpose-driven mission to deliver more sustainable modes of transportation aligns well with Hyperloop One’s radically efficient and clean technology.”

“We can’t think of a better person or brand to be our true partner in our continued quest to make our moonshot idea a reality.”

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