Hyperloop One just got a huge boost from someone with deep pockets in global transport sector – not Elon Musk but British billionaire Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. The deal would see the Virgin Group founder join Hyperloop’s board of directors with the company rebranding as “Virgin Hyperloop One.”
Speaking on his website, Richard Branson said;
The technology for Hyperloop One is currently in the early stages of the commercialisation phase after the successful completion of the world’s first full scale hyperloop systems test at their DevLoop site outside Las Vegas. Earlier this summer I was fortunate to visit the site and see first-hand the exciting technology being tested. I was very impressed and now look forward to helping turn this cutting edge engineering into a global passenger service.
His company operates trains in the UK and as he pointed out, the Hyperloop when operational in Britain would take passengers from London to Edinburgh in 45 minutes.
Neither Mr. Branson nor the team at Hyperloop One have disclosed the financial cost of the new partnership but whatever it is, it would raise Hyperloop One’s value to well over a billion dollars I suppose. The company raised an additional $85m last month bringing its total raised money to $245m at a value of over $700m. But the real deals lie ahead of successful completions of the ultra-fast system itself and so far, we’ve seen simulations and some outdoor testing but the real thing is yet to be even though some think the means of transportation could be a real thing at least in test phase by 2018. By having someone as reputable as Richard Branson to invest in the initiative, it could be a signal to some powerful investors that the idea is indeed one of the future and that they should invest.
But the idea still has a long way to go apart from test, it is yet to get a nod from the government and will likely join the list of transportation schemes that still need government nod like self-driving and flying cars. However we describe it, Hyperloop One is a start-up which still needs to convince not just the government but investors and the public that this is the real deal.
The idea was conceived by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk back in 2013 and has since then open sourced it which is why we now have start-ups exploring it now. Elon Musk hasn’t explored the idea himself because according to him, he’s busy with his other companies to focus on such an idea at the moment.
Be that as it may, Elon Musk said last year that he had received verbal permission by the authorities to build the hyperloop from New York to DC which would take commuters 29 minutes in time on a journey that would have otherwise taken 3 hours by train.
In any case, Elon Musk is always credited as the brain behind it but being an open source system, any company can implement and profit from it.