Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, recently boosted the development of high-speed hyperloop transit—the futuristic idea that involves passenger pods that could travel from, for instance, Los Angeles to San Francisco in about thirty minutes.
The Virgin Group, the multinational corporation led by Richard Branson, recently announced its plans to invest in Hyperloop One—a Los Angeles-based company that works to commercialise the Hyperloop for the transit of people and cargo. This company was founded in 2014. Executives at Virgin Group and Hyperloop One, which is now named as Virgin Hyperloop One, refuse to disclose the amount of the investment.
According to Nick Fox, Chief Communications Officer at Virgin Group, Richard has a seat on its board, but Virgin Group did not become a major shareholder in the company. Also, the idea of investing in Hyperloop One originated from Richard himself at the time of his visit to a hyperloop test run site in Nevada.
Nick Fox also added that Richard was ecstatic by the concept. He had run trains for more than 20 years in the United Kingdom, and he always looks at the future of transport (on land or in space). Companies in Virgin Group include Virgin Galactic, a commercial spaceflight company, and Virgin Trains, a train operating company in Britain.
According to the employees of Hyperloop One, their project cannot be called a train as there is no use of tracks at all. Instead, passenger pods, which magnetically levitate, use electric propulsion to zoom through tubes that have low pressure. These pods are capable of transporting freight and people at a speed of up to 670 miles per hour. However, humans haven’t taken these high-speed rides yet, and that is the general idea.
Nevertheless, Hyperloop One has been evolving and developing the technology for years. It has successfully sent a pod for 500-meter test run in July and has applied for scores of patents. Now, the company has decided to ramp up its fund-raising options and capacities as well as its business development.
According to Marvin Ammori, Hyperloop One’s general counsel, they would have done the partnership and the branding deal if Virgin did not invest anything. They have experience in taking on current industries innovatively.
During the company’s last investment round that got over in September, the funding took place and it managed to raise around $85 million. Since 2014, Hyperloop One has raised $245 million in all. It is difficult for Hyperloop One to pin pointedly suggest when and where a working system may be put in place as high-speed commute in levitating pods is still in its nascent stage. However, the tentative target is 2021.
The company has examined hundreds of propositions for probable routes in countries such as the United States, Britain, India and Mexico. It has been experimenting with government all around the world.
Hyperloop transit has received its own share of criticism as well. Many critics have deemed the idea and project as overly ambitious. Many have questioned the probable costs proposed by the company.