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  • Voltaire Staff

Virgin group-owned Hyperloop One to shut down

Hyperloop One, purportedly a frictionless travel technology that meant to ferry passengers along a vacuum tunnel in a pod,  is going to cease its operations by December 31, according to reports.

The majority stakeholder in Hyperloop One, the prominent Dubai port operator DP World, is set to take over all of the startup's intellectual property. While DP World will retain its majority control, the remaining assets of Hyperloop One, including a test track located outside Las Vegas and other equipment, are slated for sale.

Virgin Hyperloop was founded by Josh Giegel and Shervin Pishevar in 2014 with the aim of developing and implementing hyperloop technology, a high-speed transportation system using vacuum tubes.

The Hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and freight transportation, envisioned as a high-speed system of passenger pods or capsules travelling through low-pressure tubes.

First proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, the Hyperloop concept aims to achieve speeds exceeding traditional forms of transportation like trains and airplanes.

Since the company's start, it has got about $450 million from investors, and has a post-money valuation in the range of $500 million to $1 billion as of May 15, 2019, according to PrivCo.

Originally identified as Hyperloop Technologies and subsequently rebranded as Hyperloop One in 2016, the company underwent another name change to Virgin Hyperloop One following its acquisition by Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Despite a good start characterised by substantial funding and an expansive global vision, Virgin Hyperloop One faced internal strife, including legal disputes and leadership turnover.

In 2020, Virgin Hyperloop achieved a significant milestone by successfully conducting the first-ever test of human travel in a hyperloop pod.

The groundbreaking test took place at the company's DevLoop test track situated in the desert near Las Vegas, Nevada. Virgin Hyperloop's Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, Josh Giegel, and the Director of Passenger Experience, Sara Luchian were the first passengers.

Critics argue that while the hyperloop may be technically feasible, it is nothing more than vapourware. Described as a "utopian vision" with purported financial impracticality, the hyperloop is viewed by sceptics as a technology that, despite appearing promising, remains elusive and potentially years away from completion.

In 2017, top executives at Virgin Hyperloop optimistically told The Verge their expectation of witnessing "working hyperloops around the world... by 2020." However, the projected deadline was subsequently revised to 2021, underscoring the challenges and uncertainties surrounding the actualisation of hyperloop technology.

Even though a few startups are still trying to make hyperloops, the fact that one of the biggest hyperloop companies is calling it quits means the dream that Elon Musk talked about in "alpha paper" in 2013, is pretty much over.



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