Hyperloop, the proposed rapid transit concept from serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, gained significant validation on Thursday thanks to a high-profile investor.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson announced his company is investing in Hyperloop One, a frontrunner in the race to bring Musk’s vision of high-speed, tube-based transportation to life.
Financial details weren’t disclosed although one would assume it’s significant considering Hyperloop One is changing its name to Virgin 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 UK in addition to an airline and other ventures), he felt this is something he wants to be able to operate.
Hyperloop One Chairman Shervin Pishevar told CNBC that with Branson on board, the company will be able to accelerate the commercialization process and also design products with the consumer in mind. The executive added:
The customer experience of the pod is something that we definitely want to lean on Richard's and the Virgin Group's experience to create an experience when you walk into a hyperloop pod. ... You should feel comfortable. You should feel like you've been there before. This is not futuristic technology. This is happening now.
Hyperloop One successfully completed a full-scale test over the summer. If you recall, the prototype test pod accelerated to a speed of 192 mph and traveled a distance of 1,433 feet. That’s far from the promised goal of over 700 mph but it’s certainly a promising start.