The revolutionary hyperloop technology that many experts view as the future of transportation just got some serious endorsement. Famed serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, announced that he’s made a ‘significant’ investment in Hyperloop One, a startup which so far has the most advanced hyperloop technology. The company has now changed its name into ‘Virgin Hyperloop One’.
A hyperloop is basically a pad whizzing through a pneumatic tube at tremendous velocity. The pod magnetically levitates inside the tube in near-vacuum, without any air resistance. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize how people and cargo move all around the world. Once completed a full hyperloop network ought to travel at a 700mph. There are no congestion issues and people don’t need to go through the hassle of airport security. Zipping from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take only 30 minutes, compared to a six-hour drive or an all-day train ride.
The concept was first proposed by Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, a few years back. However, instead of working on it himself, the entrepreneur casually left the whole thing out in the open for others to materialize. It didn’t take too long for other entrepreneurs to seriously get to work based on Musk’s 57-page whitepaper on the Hyperloop concept. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) was the first startup that responded to the call but Hyperloop One, based in Los Angeles, has proven to be the front-runner so far.
In May 2017, they did their first propulsion test and already have a signed deal with the transport authorities of Dubai where they to install the first real hyperloop system. The plan is to have a hyperloop up and running by 2019-2020; that project will make Dubai to Abu Dhabi just a 12-minute ride. In July 2017, Virgin Hyperloop One fired a magnetically levitating test sled, then the aluminum and carbon fiber Hyperloop One pod at 310 km/h (192 mph) and over a distance of 436 m (0.27 miles).
Now, with Richard Branson involved, Virgin Hyperloop One should accelerate its development.
“We have a new ally in our mission to reinvent transportation,” Hyperloop One’s co-founders said in a statement. “The Virgin Group and Hyperloop One will be entering into a global strategic partnership focused on passenger and mixed-use cargo service.”
Richard Branson is no stranger to risky investments. The 67-year-old British entrepreneur founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 with the stated goal of making space tourism accessible to the masses. Last week, at the 2017 Nordic Business Forum (NBF) held in Helsinki, Finland, Branson said he hopes to see SpaceShipTwo beyond the atmosphere for the first time before year’s end.
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.