Science

Virgin announces Hyperloop One investment

Virgin announces Hyperloop One investment

It's now Virgin Hyperloop One, thanks to the investment of Richard Branson.

Richard Branson's Virgin Group announced Thursday it is investing in Hyperloop One in a strategic partnership aimed at establishing new passenger and cargo transport services for the superfast rail concept.

"Ever since our creation, Virgin has been known for disruption and investing in innovative companies", the entrepreneur writes.

It suggests that passengers and their luggage would travel through a pod that accelerates gradually using electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube that uses magnetic levitation to travel at lightning-fast speeds.

In 2013, Musk pitched an idea for entrepreneurs to create a massive vacuum tube that could one day transport someone from Los Angeles to NY in 45 minutes. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but the investment was significant enough that Hyperloop One will now be called Virgin Hyperloop. Last month, the company announced it had raised an additional $85 million, bringing its valuation to somewhere around $700 million, the Verge reported.

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Right now it appears that Hyperloop One's business will remain on track with the rebrand, and it's probably a good thing to have a close billionaire friend with a passion for future modes of transport when you're trying to build a brand new type of high-speed ground transit.

Early tests of the technology have achieved speeds around 200 miles per hour, including SpaceX's hyperloop pod competition and Hyperloop One's own test runs on a track in the Nevada desert that have hit a top speed of 192 miles per hour.

Branson said on CNBC that a hyperloop system could become reality in "between two and four years if governments move quickly" to approve it.

Hyperloop technologies have taken some exciting steps forward in recent years, as the first test tracks and pod designs are starting to come to fruition.

Musk's hyperloop involvement is for now limited to potentially building the tunnels with his latest startup - The Boring Company.