In a more reassuring move for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop One, the Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson has confirmed his interest in investing in the supersonic speed transport system. Branson officially joined Hyperloop One as one of its Board of Directors. With both entrepreneurs coming together, the company has been rebranded as “Virgin Hyperloop One.” The British investor and entrepreneur, Branson said to CNBC, “As a train owner, I felt this is something that I want to be able to operate; at the moment our trains are limited to 125 miles an hour… There are consumers, for instance, that would love to go from London to Edinburgh in roughly 45 minutes and that will be possible [with hyperloop].” The company is not a stranger to the space of transportation, especially with regard to the futuristic modes of commutation. His extensive Virgin Group empire includes a train network in the United Kingdom as well as airlines. In addition to airlines, rail franchises and cruise ships, Virgin Galactic has been developing the world’s first line of commercial “spaceline.”
The hyperloop plan was originally popularized by the tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk in 2013. The plan projected the use of electromagnetic propulsion to travel between cities aimed at eliminating the traffic snarls that caused travel delays. With the hyperloop system in place, Musk proposed possibility of travelling from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes. In July, Musk had disclosed that tunnel digging firm “The Boring Company had received verbal approval from governments to begin digging a tunnel for a hyperloop from New York to Washington, D.C.” In August, Musk, the SpaceX CEO surprised everyone with the announcement that the hyperloop project would unfold as a part of his Boring Company’s tunnelling project. However, earlier he had offered this plan as an open source idea stating that he was too caught up with his other companies, Telsa and SpaceX.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) October 12, 2017
So far the company has been able to amass funds from various sources, be it wealth entrepreneurs or government, to buy into their dream vision of transporting people and mixed-up cargo across cities through airless tubes in ultra-high speed. Last month, Musk announced that the company had successfully raised an additional $85 million to finance his dream tunnel transportation network, bringing its total valuation to $700 million. Though this includes investment from Virgin, Branson refused to divulge the numerical details.
The Hyperloop One Founder and Chairman, Shervin Pishevar always credited Musk as an inspiration, but maintained that his company was recognized as the only one to have engineered a full scale hyperloop, with a test track in the Nevada desert. In a more aggressive stand, with Branson collaborating as a major stakeholder, the company is likely to boost up its pursuit of government approval to kick-start on its operational system. Pishevar said that with Virgin on their board now “the company will be able to accelerate the commercialization process but also design the products with the consumer in mind. This is not futuristic technology. This is happening now,” Pishevar said. It’s [also] green and good for our planet.”
Branson said that building a tunnel tube transportation network above or below ground would be “cheaper” and “faster” as compared to a traditional rail system. He stated that “There are consumers, for instance, who would love to go from London to Edinburgh in roughly 45 minutes. And that will be possible” with a hyperloop, he said. “You can have a pod outside your office that you and your colleagues can jump into. The pod can self-drive to the top of the tunnel. It then goes down the tunnel. It connects up and off you go at 600,700 miles an hour up to your destination, going faster than an airline.”
Hyperloop carried out a full-scale technology test earlier this year. This entailed propelling a test sledge through the tube for 5.3 seconds and the company said that it smashed at nearly 2Gs of acceleration and a speed of 70 mph during the trail run. The new testing speed is targeted up to 250 mph and also features the company’s first passenger husk set to glide through the hyperloop over a longer distance. While “Virgin Hyperloop One” has been in communication with several governments, including UAE and Finland to study the feasibility of building such as system, it is yet to sign any deal. In September, the company reported to CNBC that they were eyeing Middle East as a preferable market to start with.
Interestingly, Virgin Hyperloop One is not the sole company dreaming of this technology revolution, as Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a rival company has also been in talks with governments in Asian and European sub-continent to build its own network. Richard Anderson, the Amtrak President told CNBC that the technology is not as “realistic” and so at the moment “hyperloop systems would not be taking over transport anytime soon.” In a war of words, Branson said to CNBC that “he will likely travel in space before he ever becomes a passenger on a Hyperloop.” Let’s wait and watch how long it takes for the dream to shape into reality with this boosting partnership.
Article by Rochita.