Virgin Hyperloop One
Los Angeles, California
Number of employees
|280 (Q2 2017)|
Virgin Hyperloop One formerly known as Hyperloop One, is an American transportation technology company that was formed in 2014, and reorganized and renamed in 2017, working to commercialize the high-speed technology concept called Hyperloop. 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 Elon Musk in August 2013.
The original Hyperloop concept uses a linear electric motor to accelerate and decelerate an electromagnetically levitated pod through a low-pressure tube. The vehicle will glide silently for miles at speeds up to 760 mph (1223.1 km/h) with no turbulence. The system is designed to be entirely autonomous, quiet, direct-to-destination, and on-demand. Additionally, as Hyperloop is built on columns or tunneled underground, it eliminates the dangers of at-grade crossings and requires much smaller rights of way than high-speed rail or a highway. Virgin Hyperloop One has made substantive technical changes to Musk's initial proposal and chose not to pursue the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles notional route that Musk envisioned in his 2013 alpha-design white paper.
The company had raised $295 million by December 2017 and demonstrated a form of propulsion technology in May 2016 at its test site north of Las Vegas. Hyperloop One has completed a 500-meter Development Loop (DevLoop) in North Las Vegas and in May 2017, held its first full-scale Hyperloop test. The test combined Hyperloop components including vacuum, propulsion, levitation, sled, control systems, tube, and structures.
Its publicly stated goal is to deliver a fully operational Hyperloop system by 2021.
The idea for Hyperloop One emerged from a conversation between Elon Musk and 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.
In August 2013, Musk released the Hyperloop Alpha white paper, 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 lots of fresh recruits and new investor interest. In June 2015, Pishevar recruited former Cisco president Rob Lloyd as an investor and, eventually, the company's CEO.
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, which they closed on in May 2016. In October 2016, Hyperloop One announced that it had raised another $50 million, led by an investment from DP World.
The propulsion open-air test, or POAT, was successfully held in Nevada on May 9, 2016. The POAT sled accelerated to 134 mph (216 km/h) in 2.3 seconds, representing a crucial proof of concept. 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.
In late July 2016, Hyperloop One opened a 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2) tooling and machine shop called Metalworks in North Las Vegas, Nevada, where it fabricates the parts for its nearby test track, called Devloop.
In May 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.
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. 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.
Announced on October 12, 2017, Hyperloop One and the Virgin Group 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. Subsequently, Hyperloop One was renamed Virgin Hyperloop One, and Branson became the chairman of the board of directors.
Hyperloop One has raised $245 million to date. Its investors include Sherpa Capital, Formation 8, 137 Ventures, DP World, Khosla Ventures, Caspian Venture Capital, Fast Digital, Western Technology Investment, Zhen Fund, GE Ventures, and SNCF.
In October 2018, the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia walked away from a planned US$1 billion investment in Hyperloop and other Virgin companies.
As of July 2018[update], 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. Former board members include Peter Diamandis, Jim Messina who as of July 2018 serves as strategic adviser, former Morgan Stanley executive Jim Rosenthal, Joe Lonsdale, the co-founder Shervin Pishevar, who took a leave of absence from Hyperloop One in December 2017 after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct, and Ziyavudin Magomedov, Russian billionaire arrested on embezzlement charges in 2018. In November 2018, Richard Branson was replaced as chairman by Ahmed Bin Sulayem.
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.
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.
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.
By April 2017, Hyperloop One had feasibility studies underway in the United Arab Emirates, Finland and Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Moscow, and the UK.
Hyperloop One Global Challenge
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. In January 2017, Hyperloop One announced the 35 semifinalist routes (spread over 17 countries) in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Hyperloop One held a series of events showcasing the semifinalists, Vision for India in February, Vision for America in April and Vision for Europe in June. On September 14, 2017, Hyperloop One announced the 10 winners for the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. The countries with teams that won include the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, and India. The winners will now be invited to work closely with Hyperloop One on viability studies to try and bring their respective loops from proposal to reality.
The ten winning routes that were selected are:
|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|
In July 2016, the CTO and co-founder Brogan BamBrogan left the company, later filing a lawsuit with three other former employees alleging breach of fiduciary duty and misuse of corporate resources. 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. On November 18, 2016, both parties agreed to settle the lawsuit. Terms were confidential and not disclosed. BamBrogan and other former Hyperloop One and SpaceX employees went on to found Arrivo, a competing hyperloop company.
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