Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has invested an undisclosed amount in Hyperloop One.
It means the transport firm will now rebrand as Virgin Hyperloop One, although Hyperloop One will remain in control of all the engineering and development.
Hyperloop technology uses a low-pressure vacuum to propel a levitated pod through a tube at very high speeds. In August development company Hyperloop One reached speeds of 86m/s using its XP-1 first generation pod at its testing site in the Nevada desert, USA.
Engineers from Arup, Aecom and bodies including the Department for Transport are developing plans for the first potential UK routes for Hyperloop One. The nine prospective routes in Europe, including three in the UK, were named earlier this year.
In a statement, Hyperloop One co-founders Shervin Pishevar and Josh Giegel said, with the firm’s chief executive 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.
“Even as we build this partnership, the Hyperloop One team will remain in control of all engineering and development, product and system design, business development, and strategy. Now we’re adding the ability to tap into the strength of a company with 53M customers, excellent management, and a track record for delighting customers in a multitude of industries, especially transportation.”
Branson added: “Ever since our creation, Virgin has been known for disruption and investing in innovative companies. From our airlines to our trains to our spaceline, we have long been passionate about innovation in transport too, especially the development of technology that could transform people’s lives. This is just the latest example. Importantly, Virgin Hyperloop One will be all-electric and the team is working on ensuring it is a responsible and sustainable form of transport too.”