A Hyperloop One startup intent on zipping people along at near-supersonic speeds in pressurized tubes announced Tuesday that the French national rail company had joined its growing list of backers.
Hyperloop One said that it closed an $80 million round of second round of financing with funding coming to an array of investors, including GE Ventures and France’s SNCF.
“The overwhelming response we’ve had already confirms what we’ve always known, that Hyperloop One is at the forefront of a movement to solve one of the planet’s most pressing problems,” said Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar.
“The brightest minds are coming together at the right time to eliminate the distances and borders that separate economies and cultures.”
Pishevar and Brogan BamBrogan founded Hyperloop One, originally named Hyperloop Tech, in 2013 to make real Elon Musk’s well-researched vision of a lightening fast transport system with the potential to transform how people live.
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Elon Musk’s Hyperloop super-fast rail to hit milestone
Musk outlined his futuristic idea in a paper released in 2013, challenging innovators to bring the dream to life.
Hyperloop One, one of the startups that picked up the gauntlet thrown by Musk, planned a demonstration Wednesday in the desert outside Las Vegas to show what it has accomplished so far.
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Watch: This is what Hyperloop’s test ride in Las Vegas would feel like
BamBrogan also promised a “full-scaled, full-speed” demo by the end of this year.
“It’s not just a faster train; it is an absolute on-demand experience,” BamBrogan said during a presentation here late Tuesday.
“It leaves when you get there, goes directly to your destination, and goes directly to your destination.”
He went on to playfully describe Hyperloop of being such a controlled environment that it was “elevator smooth” as well as a “pet friendly, kid friendly, grandma friendly environment.”
Hyperloop One was so confident in the speed at which the project was moving that it announced a global challenge in which businesses, governments, citizens, academics or others could submit proposals for where the systems should be built.
“Just like an Olympics bidding process, we want to understand the best ideas in the world and then extract the best one,” said Hyperloop One chief executive Rob Lloyd.
“So after we had our Kitty Hawk moment, we can start to transform the world.”
Kitty Hawk moment
Late last year, Lloyd said in an online post that the team was working toward a “Kitty Hawk” moment in 2016.
The post came with word of an agreement to use an industrial park in the city of North Las Vegas to conduct a Propulsion Open Air Test of the blazingly-fast rail system.
Lloyd described it at the time as a very important step on the way to realizing the full potential of Hyperloop Tech.
“Our ‘Kitty Hawk’ moment refers to our first full system, full scale, full speed test,” Lloyd said.
“This will be over two miles of tube with a controlled environment and inside that tube we will levitate a pod and accelerate it to over 700 miles (1,125 kilometers) per hour.”