Sci-tech

Virgin's Richard Branson backs Hyperloop One

Virgin's Richard Branson backs Hyperloop One

Branson, who described the endeavor as the world's most revolutionary train service, said that as a train owner (his company owns a train network in the United Kingdom in addition to an airline and other ventures), he felt this is something he wants to be able to operate.

Hyperloop One held its latest test run of a transport pod in a tube in late July in the Nevada desert. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but the investment was significant enough that Hyperloop One will now be called Virgin Hyperloop.

The company announced Thursday that Branson and Virgin Group have invested an unspecified sum of money into the project, leading to the rebranding and creation of a "strategic partnership" that sees Branson join Hyperloop One's board of directors.

With Virgin Hyperloop One, passengers and cargo will be loaded into a pod and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube.

The pod quickly lifts above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag.

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The technology is going through trials on a 500-metre test track and the company, now known as Virgin Hyperloop One, hopes to make it commercially viable.

Virgin Group already has a hand in space travel through its Virgin Galactic spaceflight company, and now the group is investing in high-speed transportation.

In a post on his website, Branson said he aimed to turn it into a "global passenger service" which could complete the 332-mile journey between the Scottish and United Kingdom capitals, via Manchester, in under an hour. "We have always been passionate about innovation in transport too, especially the development of technology that could transform people's lives", the statement reads.

In August, the Hyperloop traveled nearly the entire length of the track and reached a top speed of 192 miles per hour.

Branson said the company was working on "exciting projects" around the world but no lines have been confirmed as yet.

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