Hyperloop One Announces Key Partnerships And $80 Million Investment As It Prepares First Public Demonstration Of Its Technology

11 May 2016

Elon Musk’s futuristic dream of shooting people 700-mph through steel vacuum tubes — called Hyperloop – still feels mostly like a pipe dream. But Hyperloop’s leading startup, the recently renamed Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies), is getting ready show off that it’s not just all hype.

The Los Angeles-based startup is planning the first demonstration of its propulsion system on Wednesday. On Tuesday evening, the company announced it closed a $80 million Series B round of funding. New investors include 137 Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Fast Digital, Western Technology Investment, SNCF, the French National Rail Company, and GE Ventures.

At an event in Las Vegas, the company also presented a handful of big-name engineering and transportation companies that it’s partnering with, including AECOM, Amberg Group, Arup, Bjarke Ingels Group, Deutsche Bahn, KPMG and Systra.

Aecom, the Los Angeles-based engineering firm, is working with Hyperloop on a feasibility study to determine if Hyperloop can improve the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. (Hyperloop One is exploring the possibility of delivering cargo, not just people.) FS Links AB is conducting a feasibility study for connecting Finland and Sweden using Hyperloop. And British consultancy Arup is looking at possibly installing Hyperloop technology underground to connect London and Birmingham.

“Hyperloop has the potential to solve many of today’s most complex long-distance transport issues,” said Arup Chairman Gregory Hodkinson in a statement.

Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd was equally enthusiastic. “We think that Hyperloop is going to have the same impact on society that the internet had,” Lloyd said in his introductory remarks. Lloyd joined the company last September after spending 17 years at networking giant Cisco as a top executive. He was considered a front-runner to replace John Chambers as CEO, but lost lost out to Chuck Robbins.

Hyperloop One’s colorful cofounders, venture capital Shervin Pishevar and former top SpaceX engineer Brogan BamBrogan, reminisced on-stage about the company’s founding. The company’s founding came after Elon Musk put out a 58-page white paper in August 2013 on the fundamentals of what a Hyperloop system would look like.

Musk described capsules that would travel in a near-vacuum tube to reduce drag. The vacuum-tube transport network would move people around the world at rates approaching the speed of sound. Musk called this “the fifth mode” of transportation — after boats, trains, motor vehicles and airplanes. Musk promised this system would be as fast as a plane, cheaper than any train and would emit no carbon pollution.

But Musk was too busy with Tesla and SpaceX to develop the technology himself, so he “open sourced” the idea. Pishevar, an early investor in Uber, decided to spearhead an effort. BamBrogan joined soon afterwards. He had just left SpaceX and had designed the second-stage engine of SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket. He was also lead architect for the heat shields of the Dragon capsule. The company has since grown to around 150 employees.

Hyperloop One isn’t the only company running with Musk’s idea. Another LA-based startup called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) relies on volunteer labor. The company claims around 200 volunteers are working on different areas of the project: business, routing, design, engineering.

On Monday, HTT said that it has licensed technology that makes its approach safer and cheaper than existing high speed train technology. It’s using passive magnetic levitation system developed by Dr. Richard Post at the Lawrence Livermore National Labs. A passive magnetic levitation system would remove the need for building power stations along the track.

For Hyperloop One, the next step is proving its technology actually works. Hyperloop One is trying to do just that with a 1000-foot test track in the Nevada desert where it will demonstrate its technology for the first time. A group of journalists will get a chance to see it and FORBES will be there reporting on the test.


Source : forbes.com