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Hyperloop One hits the buffers

first live test of the Hyperloop system in Nevada in November 2020 Reuterts/Cover Media
Josh Giegel, chief technology officer at Hyperloop, and Sara Luchian, director of passenger experience, at the first live test of the Hyperloop system in Nevada in November 2020
  • Nevada test track to be sold
  • Staff laid off from December 31
  • DP World keeps intellectual rights

Hyperloop One, the high-speed transportation company backed by DP World, has ground to a halt, according to reports.

The company, which claims to be developing technology that will allow passengers to travel at more than 700 miles per hour in a floating pod that is thrust through giant low-pressure vacuum tubes, was founded in 2014.

It raised more than $400 million, largely from DP World, the UAE-based shipping and logistics giant, and the British billionaire Richard Branson. 

Hyperloop One was known as Virgin Hyperloop until 2022, when a shift in focus towards cargo saw the Virgin name dropped.

DP World and Hyperloop One have both been contacted for comment.

The hyperloop technology was first promoted by the billionaire Elon Musk more than 10 years ago.

Hyperloop One had said that a Gulf-based network, powered by solar panels, could transport as many as 45 million passengers a year.

Co-founder Josh Giegel boasted of a hyperloop journey of just 48 minutes between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

The company, which is based in Los Angeles, completed the world’s first passenger ride on the system in 2020, hitting speeds of 172 km/h.

The test track outside Las Vegas will be sold, according to the report, along with the rest of the company’s hard assets, while remaining staff have been told their employment will end on December 31.

A Bloomberg News report said that DP World will retain the intellectual property rights for Hyperloop One.

The hyperloop concept, despite being launched to a huge fanfare, has failed to materially advance, primarily because of a lack of public sector backing, a report earlier this year from the Munich-based transport specialist Roland Berger concluded.

“It’s not a safe bet that [hyperloop] will happen,” Santiago Castillo, a partner with Roland Berger, told AGBI in a previous interview.

“It’s a matter of throwing a lot of money at it and making sure that you take enough time as well to test everything properly.”

Despite this latest setback, Andres de Leon, the CEO of California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, said that interest “remains strong”, with the company developing its project in Italy and China progressing its own system.

“The first commercial hyperloop systems in the world will be seen in the coming years,” he wrote in a social media post on Friday.

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