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Virgin Group invests in US's Hyperloop One

The rebranded outfit, Virgin Hyperloop One, will be "all-electric" and continue its efforts in key markets, such as the Middle East, Sir Richard Branson revealed

DevLoop is Virgin Hyperloop One's project outside Las Vegas.
DevLoop is Virgin Hyperloop One's project outside Las Vegas.

Virgin Group, a British organisation headed by Sir Richard Branson, has invested in Hyperloop One, a US-based company developing high-speed pod-based transit systems. 

The rebranded outfit – Virgin Hyperloop One – will be "all-electric", according to Branson. 

READ: Hyperloop and Abu Dhabi's feasibility study nears release

In a statement on Virgin Group's website, Branson continued: "The technology for Hyperloop One is currently in the early stages of the commercialisation phase, after the successful completion of the world's first full scale hyperloop systems test at [its] DevLoop site outside Las Vegas." 

Outlining the evolution and rapid uptake of hyperloop technology, he added: "Virgin Hyperloop One are leading the way in these efforts, and [is] working on exciting projects in the Middle East, Europe, India, Canada, and the US." 

The first images of DevLoop show that a 500m-long, 3.3m-wide hyperloop prototype has been built at the Nevada site. 

During Phase 2 of testing, the duration of the longest test has been 10.6 seconds, with the top speed of 310km/h – or 86m per second.

IN PICTURES: Hyperloop One's desert test site

The maximum distance travelled is 436m, Branson added

Rob Lloyd, the chief executive officer of legacy outfit, Hyperloop One, unveiled the images at the Middle East Rail conference in Dubai this March. 

Pointing to the potential benefits of the super-fast transport system, he made reference to the 4,000 vehicles that travel every day between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and the $800m (AED2.9bn) cost of the resulting traffic congestion in lost working hours to Dubai’s economy.

"Tying together, the Middle East region would produce greater virtual density, without congestion and pollution, spurring innovation, productivity, job growth, and more powerful sharing of knowledge, labour, and investment," Lloyd continued. 

"Building a hyperloop would vastly impact the economy and make any major city in the GCC accessible within one hour."

In November 2016, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) signed an agreement with Hyperloop One to build a 20km-long hyperloop prototype by 2020.

The initiative will form part of a feasibility study into building a similar system between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which would reduce travelling time between the emirates to 12 minutes.

READ: Hyperloop One reveals first images of test site

The rapid-transit system, which was conceptualised by SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, in 2013, is designed to propel air-cushioned pods through a semi-vacuumed tube. 

When implemented, the technology could cut journeys between Dubai and Abu Dhabi to 12 minutes; Dubai to Muscat to 27 minutes; and Dubai to Riyadh to 48 minutes.

Led by the UAE, hyperloop development is making rapid strides in the Gulf. 

Last week, it was revealed that a feasibility study carried out to implement hyperloop in Abu Dhabi would be released "soon". 

ITP.net reported that the feasibility study about the transport technology is the largest of its kind. 

READ: RTA chief says no timeline set for hyperloop implementation in Dubai

Bibop Gresta, founder and chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT), said the firm has deals with eight countries to implement the system, including land for two test tracks, one each in France and India. 

HyperloopTT's study with the Abu Dhabi government covers "many aspects of the project", Gresta reportedly explained.

Topics covered in the study include "alignments, financials, economic viability, sustainability, and the impact on [the UAE's] Vision 2030". 

He continued: "In Abu Dhabi, we are particularly proud because we conducted a feasibility study that is the biggest study on a hyperloop system.



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