Virgin Hyperloop

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Virgin Hyperloop
FormerlyHyperloop Technologies (2014–2016)
Hyperloop One (2016–2017)
Virgin Hyperloop One (2017–2020)
TypePrivate
IndustryHigh-speed rail
FoundedJune 1, 2014; 6 years ago (2014-06-01)[1]
FoundersBrogan BamBrogan
Josh Giegel
Shervin Pishevar
Headquarters
Key people
Number of employees
500 (2020)[3][failed verification]
Websitevirginhyperloop.com

Virgin Hyperloop (formerly Hyperloop Technologies, Hyperloop One and Virgin Hyperloop One) is an American transportation technology company that works to commercialize the high-speed technology concept called the Hyperloop, a variant of the vacuum train. The company was established on June 1, 2014 and reorganized and renamed on October 12, 2017.[4] Hyperloop systems are intended to move passengers and/or cargo at airline speeds at a fraction of the cost of air travel. The concept of Hyperloop transportation was first introduced by Robert H. Goddard in 1904.[5][6] The train was designed to run suspended by magnetic systems in a vacuum tube.[7] The company is currently working on projects around the world.

The original Hyperloop concept is proposed to use a linear electric motor to accelerate and decelerate an air-bearing levitated pod through a low-pressure tube. The vehicle would glide silently for miles at speeds up to 760 mph (1223.1 km/h) with very low turbulence.[8] The system is proposed to be entirely autonomous, quiet, direct-to-destination and on-demand. Additionally, as Hyperloop is proposed to be built on columns or tunneled underground, this could eliminate the dangers of at-grade crossings and require smaller rights of way than high-speed rail or a highway.[9] Virgin Hyperloop has made substantive technical changes to Elon Musk's initial proposal and chose not to pursue the Los Angeles–to–San Francisco notional route that Musk envisioned in his 2013 alpha-design white paper.

The company had raised $295 million on December 18, 2017[10] and demonstrated a form of propulsion technology on May 11, 2016 at its test site in North Las Vegas.[11] Virgin Hyperloop (formerly Hyperloop One) has completed a 500-meter Development Loop (DevLoop)[12] and on May 12, 2017, held its first full-scale Hyperloop test. The test combined Hyperloop components including vacuum, propulsion, levitation, sled, control systems, tube and structures.[13] As of May 2019, the company had raised $400 million.[14]

Its publicly stated goal is to launch commercial operations by 2030.[15]

On November 8, 2020, after more than 400 unmanned tests, Virgin Hyperloop conducted the first human trial with Virgin Hyperloop executives Josh Giegel, its Co-founder and CEO, and Sara Luchian, Director of Passenger Experience, as the first passengers at a speed of 172 km/h (107 mph) at the Virgin Hyperloop’s DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, Nevada.[16][17][18] The test's safety process was validated by an Independent Safety Assessor.[19]

In January 2021, the company launched its vision for the future passenger experience.[20]

History[edit]

Hyperloop Technologies logo (2014–2016)
Hyperloop One logo (2016–2017)
Virgin Hyperloop One logo (2017–2020)

The idea of trains in vacuum has been elaborated many times in history of science and science-fiction.[21] The idea for a version of vacuum train called Hyperloop emerged from a conversation between Elon Musk and Iranian American Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar when they were flying together to Cuba on a humanitarian mission in January 2012. Pishevar asked Musk to elaborate on his Hyperloop idea, which the industrialist had been mulling over for some time. Pishevar suggested using it for cargo, an idea Musk hadn't considered, but he did say he was considering open-sourcing the concept because he was too busy running SpaceX and Tesla. Pishevar pushed Musk to publish his ideas about the Hyperloop, so that Pishevar could study them.[22]

On August 12, 2013, Musk released the Hyperloop Alpha white paper,[23] generating widespread attention and enthusiasm. In the months that followed Pishevar incorporated Hyperloop Technologies, which would later be renamed Hyperloop One, and recruited the first board members, including David O. Sacks, Jim Messina and Joe Lonsdale. Pishevar also recruited a cofounder, a former SpaceX engineer named Brogan Bambrogan. Hyperloop Technologies set up shop in Bambrogan's garage in Los Angeles in November 2014. By January 2015, Hyperloop Tech had raised $9 million in venture capital from Pishevar's Sherpa Capital and investors such as Formation 8 and Zhen Fund, and was able to move into its current campus in the Los Angeles Arts District. Forbes magazine put Hyperloop Tech on its February 2015 cover, landing the startup many fresh recruits and much new investor interest. In June 2015, Pishevar recruited former Cisco president Rob Lloyd as an investor and, eventually, the company's CEO.[24][25]

Between June 2015 and December 2015, the company continued to hire engineers and expand its downtown campus (now up to 75,000 square feet). In December 2015, the renamed Hyperloop One announced it would hold an open-air propulsion test at a new Test and Safety Site in Nevada. At the time, the company disclosed it had raised $37 million in financing to date and was completing a Series B round of $80m,[26] which they closed on in May 2016.[27] In October 2016, Hyperloop One announced that it had raised another $50 million, led by an investment from DP World.[28]

The propulsion open-air test or POAT, was successfully held in North Las Vegas on May 11, 2016. The POAT sled accelerated to 134 mph (216 km/h) in 2.3 seconds, representing a crucial proof of concept.[29] At the time Hyperloop One announced it had secured partnerships with global engineering and design firms such as AECOM, SYSTRA, Arup, Deutsche Bahn, General Electric, and Bjarke Ingels.[27]

On November 10, 2016, Hyperloop One released its first system designs in collaboration with the Bjarke Ingels Group.[30]

On May 12, 2017, Hyperloop One tested a full-scale Hyperloop. The system-wide test integrated Hyperloop components including vacuum, propulsion, levitation, sled, control systems, tube, and structures.[13]

On July 12, 2017, the company revealed images of its first generation pod prototype to be used at the DevLoop test site in Nevada to test aerodynamics.[31] On August 2, 2017, Hyperloop One successfully tested its XP-1 passenger pod, reaching speeds of up to 192 mph (309 km/h). It traveled for just over 980 ft (300 m) before the brakes kicked in and it rolled to a stop.[32]

On October 12, 2017, Hyperloop One and the Virgin Group announced that it developed a strategic investment partnership, resulting in Richard Branson joining the board of directors. The global strategic partnership will focus on passenger and mixed-use cargo service in addition to the creation of a new passenger division.[33] Subsequently, Hyperloop One was renamed Virgin Hyperloop One, and Branson became the chairman of the board of directors.[4]

In June 2020, Virgin Hyperloop One rebranded to Virgin Hyperloop, changing their logo and launching a new website.[34]

On November 8, 2020 Virgin Hyperloop conducted the first human trial with Virgin Hyperloop executives Josh Giegel, its Co-founder and CEO, and Sara Luchian, Director of Passenger Experience, as the first passengers at a speed of 172 km/h (107 mph) at the Virgin Hyperloop’s DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, Nevada.[16][17][18] The test was conducted in a near-vacuum environment of 100 Pascals.[35]

In February 2021, co-founder Josh Giegel was named CEO of Virgin Hyperloop.[36]


Test pods[edit]

XP-1[edit]

After Hyperloop One began the construction of 500-metre (1,600 ft) DevLoop in October 2016, the company successfully conducted the first full-system test using the levitating chassis without passenger pod on May 12, 2017. The next phase of the test would involve a passenger pod.[37] The company designed and built its first generation full-scale test pod name XP-1 (short for experimental pod one) to be used in the full-scale pod tests.[38][39]

XP-1 has the length of 8.7 metres (29 ft), the width of 2.4 metres (7.9 ft), and the height of 2.4 metres (7.9 ft). The pod's motor was evolved from 500 motors that were built and tested in order to operate with resiliency in near-vacuum environment.[32] The pod was successfully tested for the first time on July 29, 2017 with the 300 metres (980 ft) of acceleration to reach the recorded speeds of 310 kilometres per hour (190 mph). The pod achieved 3,151 horsepower during the test inside the depressurized tube with conditions similar to the atmosphere at 200,000 feet (61 km) above sea level.[38]

The XP-1 speed record was broken in August 2017 by WARR Hyperloop during the second Hyperloop Pod Competition with the top speeds of 324 kilometres per hour (201 mph).[40] However, the pods in the competition were small and would not be large enough to carry passengers.[41] XP-1 set the world's speed record again during the test in December 2017 that reached 387 kilometres per hour (240 mph). With that test, the company also demonstrated its airlock technology that allowed the pod to be transferred into the depressurized tube.[42] With this system, XP-1 pod can be put in an airlock which takes a few minutes to depressurize before entering the already depressurized tube. Otherwise, the pod would need to enter the tube and wait for the 4-hour depressurization of the entire test tube.[43] In 2018, WARR Hyperloop broke XP-1 record again in the third Hyperloop Pod Competition, albeit on a longer track.[41]

In the summer of 2019, the company brought XP-1 to a roadshow to Ohio, Texas, Kansas, New York, Missouri, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.[44][45]

XP-2[edit]

Exterior of XP-2 vehicle
Exterior of XP-2 vehicle at sunrise

For the company's passenger testing, they created a new vehicle, dubbed "experimental pod 2," or XP-2. The vehicle, designed by BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group and Kilo Design - was custom-built with occupant safety and comfort in mind.[46]

Interior of XP-2
Interior of XP-2


In March 2021, Virgin Hyperloop announced that the vehicle would be on display at the Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building in late 2021.[47]

Commercial vehicle[edit]

Following successful passenger testing, Virgin Hyperloop unveiled their commercial vehicle design in January 2021.[48] Designed in collaboration with Seattle-based design firm Teague, each vehicle will seat about 28 passengers, but can transport thousands of passengers per hour in convoys.[49]

Funding[edit]

Hyperloop One has raised over $485 million as of May 2019.[50] Its investors include Sherpa Capital, Formation 8, 137 Ventures,[51] DP World,[52] Khosla Ventures,[51] Caspian Venture Capital, Fast Digital,[51] Western Technology Investment,[51] Zhen Fund, GE Ventures,[51] and SNCF.[51]

Management[edit]

The CEO of Virgin Hyperloop is co-founder Josh Giegel.[53]

As of July 2018, the board of directors include Richard Branson (Chairman), Justin Fishner-Wolfson, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Rob Lloyd, Josh Giegel, Bill Shor, Yuvraj Narayan, Anatoly Braverman, and Emily White as a strategic adviser.[54] Former board members include Peter Diamandis, Jim Messina, who as of July 2018[54] serves as strategic adviser, former Morgan Stanley executive Jim Rosenthal, Joe Lonsdale, the co-founder Shervin Pishevar,[55] who took a leave of absence from Hyperloop One in December 2017 after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct,[56][57][58][59] and Ziyavudin Magomedov, a Russian billionaire who was arrested on embezzlement charges in 2018.[60]

On November 8, 2018, Richard Branson was replaced as chairman by Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem.[61]

Planned cooperation[edit]

Possible routes of Hyperloop in Europe on completion of standardisation process
Proposed routes of the concept "Vision For Europe"

In June 2016 the company announced a memorandum of understanding with the Summa Group and the Russian government to construct a Hyperloop in Moscow and has since completed two feasibility studies – one in Moscow and one in the Far East.[62]

In August 2016, Hyperloop One announced a deal with the world's third largest ports operator, DP World, to develop a cargo offloader system at DP World's flagship port of Jebel Ali in Dubai.[63] On November 8, 2016, Hyperloop One announced it had signed a deal with Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to conduct a number of feasibility studies on potential passenger and cargo Hyperloop routes in the United Arab Emirates.[30]

By April 2017, Hyperloop One had feasibility studies underway in the United Arab Emirates, Finland and Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Moscow, and the UK.[64]

On September 1, 2017, Hyperloop signed a letter of intent with Estonia to cooperate on the Helsinki to Tallinn Tunnel.[65]

In February 2018, the Virgin Group signed an "intent agreement" with the Government of Maharashtra state of India to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune.[66] In August 2019, the government has deemed hyperloop a public infrastructure project and approved the Virgin Hyperloop-DP World Consortium as the Original Project Proponent (OPP), recognizing hyperloop technology alongside other more traditional forms of mass transit. The Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, K. VijayRaghavan, set up a committee called the Consultative Group on Future of Transportation (CGFT) to explore the regulatory path for hyperloop.[67]

On July 19, 2018, an Ohio regional planning commission was investigating concepts of using Hyperloop between airports and potentially between regional cities in the United States such as Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh;[68] in May 2020 the commission released the results of their Midwest Connect feasibility study, which found that the route between the three cities would create $300 billion in overall economic benefits and reduce CO2 emission by 2.4 million tons.[69]

In July 2018, Texas officials announced that the state will explore hyperloop technology for a route connecting Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Laredo.[70]

In June 2019, Hyperloop One announced an ongoing collaboration with the Sam Fox School of Washington University in St. Louis to explore proposals for the Missouri Hyperloop.[71][72]

In October 2019, Missouri became the first US state to conduct a hyperloop feasibility study,[73] exploring a route between Kansas City and St. Louis.

In December 2019, the State Government of Punjab signed an MoU with Virgin Hyperloop to explore a route connecting the Amritsar-Ludhiana-Chandigarh corridor.[74]

In February 2020, Saudi Arabia and Virgin Hyperloop One signed a partnership agreement; Virgin Hyperloop One will conduct a pre-feasibility study.[75]

In September 2020, Bangalore International Airport Limited and Virgin Hyperloop signed a partnership agreement to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed hyperloop corridor from BLR Airport.[76]

Hyperloop One Global Challenge[edit]

In 2016, Hyperloop One launched its Hyperloop One Global Challenge to find the locations for, and develop and construct, the world's first Hyperloop networks.[77] In January 2017, Hyperloop One announced the 35 semifinalist routes (spread over 17 countries) in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge.[78] Hyperloop One held a series of events showcasing the semifinalists, Vision for India in February,[79] Vision for America in April[80] and Vision for Europe in June.[81]

On September 14, 2017, Hyperloop One announced the 10 winners for the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. The Hyperloop One Global Challenge was judged by an international panel of consisting of five judges: Peter Diamandis, Bassam Mansour, Ulla Tapaninen, Clive Burrows, and Alan Berger.[82] The countries with teams that won include the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, and India. The winners were to be invited to work closely with Hyperloop One on viability studies to try and bring their respective loops from proposal to reality.[83]

The ten winning routes that were selected are:[84]

# Country Route
1  United States Chicago to Columbus to Pittsburgh
2 Dallas to Laredo to Houston
3 Cheyenne to Denver to Pueblo
4 Miami to Orlando
5  Canada Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal
6  Mexico Mexico City to Guadalajara
7  United Kingdom Edinburgh to London
8 Glasgow to Liverpool
9  India Bengaluru (Bangalore) to Chennai
10 Mumbai to Chennai

Lawsuits[edit]

In July 2016, the CTO and co-founder Brogan BamBrogan left the company,[85] later filing a lawsuit with three other former employees alleging breach of fiduciary duty and misuse of corporate resources.[86] On July 19, 2016, Hyperloop One filed a countersuit against the four former employees, alleging they staged a failed coup of the company, in the process breaching agreements around fiduciary duty, non-competes, proprietary information and non-disparagement, as well as intentional interference with contractual relations.[87] On November 18, 2016, both parties agreed to settle the lawsuit. Terms were confidential and not disclosed.[88] BamBrogan and other former Hyperloop One and SpaceX employees went on to found Arrivo, a now defunct hyperloop company.[89]

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External links[edit]