This alliance will give a financial boost to the startup company founded with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's open-sourced technology that was publicly released in a 2013 white paper. While Musk proposed supersonic, air-propelled pods traveling through ...
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced Thursday that it will partner with makers of the world’s first commercial electrically and magnetically propelled pod-in-a-tube train system, Hyperloop One, in Los Angeles.
The newly expanded company, which is working to bring airplane speeds to ground transportation, is now known as Virgin Hyperloop One. No details were provided about Branson’s level of financial investment.
“We have a new ally in our mission to reinvent transportation, and it’s someone who’s changed the industry a few times already in his career,” Hyperloop One announced Thursday in a joint statement from co-founders Shervin Pishevar and Josh Giegel, and CEO Rob Lloyd. “Our global strategic partnership will focus on passenger and mixed-use cargo service, in addition to the creation of a new passenger division.
“Virgin will not be the only operator. We will work with a variety of operators globally, as selected by customers.”
This alliance will give a financial boost to the startup company founded with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s open-sourced technology that was publicly released in a 2013 white paper. While Musk proposed supersonic, air-propelled pods traveling through vacuum-sealed tubes, Hyperloop One’s system uses existing Maglev technology that relies on magnets to levitate the pod and enhance the speed of its electric motor.
Meanwhile, Long Beach-based Virgin Orbit is gearing up for final tests of its space tourism commercial venture to transport people to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere.
“We’re incredibly excited about the technology behind Virgin Hyperloop One and the way it could transform passengers’ lives,” Branson said, in a written statement.
Hyperloop One announced in August that its system reached 192 mph on its specially designed DevLoop track in North Las Vegas. It’s now working with partners in India to build the systems there, as well as with engineers and entrepreneurs around the world developing applications for the technology as part of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge.
Hyperloop train systems are expected to be used for cargo shipments before they become people movers, and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been considered as early adopters of the technology.
Musk still owns the patent for the Hyperloop name and hosts competitions at SpaceX in Hawthorne for university students to develop prototype Hyperloop pods. He’s now building a test tunnel system in Hawthorne for electric vehicles and pods, and has discussed with federal officials building underground Hyperloop train networks in major urban centers around the country.
Musk’s investments, along with the alliance between Branson and Hyperloop One, are important steps forward for Los Angeles County’s economy, said Chris Rico, director of innovation for the nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
“With Richard Branson bringing his financial investment and global vision, I’m sure there’s going to be some benefit in terms of synergy of what he’s doing with Virgin Galactic and this,” Rico said. “It’s going to ground Richard more in Los Angeles, which is good for us. It will draw more people here.
“I think people are looking to L.A. as being the city of the future again, the way we were when Howard Hughes and Walt Disney were building their dreams here.”
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