Innovation

Hyperloop transport edges closer to reality with live demo, new partnerships

Hyperloop One, one of the startups behind the high-speed transportation concept Hyperloop, announced $80 million in new funding and a live test of its technology.

Hyperloop One's sled under construction.

On Wednesday, Hyperloop One, one of the startups working to make Elon Musk's Hyperloop concept a reality, announced $80 million in new funding and a live demonstration of its propulsion technology.

Hyperloop is a next-generation, high-speed transportation concept first proposed by Tesla's Elon Musk in 2013. In theory, it involves pressurized capsules riding on an air cushion in low pressure tubes at speeds close to 800 miles per hour. And, Hyperloop One's announcement is one of the first major steps made toward bringing this technology to the real world.

Hyperloop One (formerly Hyperloop Technologies) demoed its technology at a test track in northern Las Vegas. According to a press release announcing it, Wednesday's demo was "the first of many full-scale tests by Hyperloop."

However, it should be noted that this test only concerned the propulsion component and did not include a full capsule or track. Still, it is a major step forward for the Hyperloop concept and could help prove what Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd said: "The Hyperloop is real and it's happening now..."

SEE: A Hyperloop alternative: Honda proposes grid of accident-resistant, clean energy cars that go 180 mph (ZDNet)

Getting from the test phase to a fully working prototype will likely take quite some time and a lot of resources. To cover the resources aspect, Hyperloop One also announced an injection of capital in the form of an $80 Million Series B Financing round.

Previous Series A investors Sherpa Ventures, EightVC, ZhenFund, and Caspian Venture Partners returned for the Series B investment, which also included new investors 137 Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Fast Digital, Western Technology Investment (WTI), SNCF, the French National Rail Company, and GE Ventures.

The company also received positive encouragement from the government of Nevada, which helped speed along the development of its test track.

"We believe that Hyperloop One will develop the next mode of transportation while also providing a significant revenue stream and job opportunities for Nevadans," Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada, said in a press release.

hyperloopone1.jpg
Pieces of Hyperloop One's track.
Image: Hyperloop One

Additionally, Hyperloop One also announced its network of global infrastructure partners that it will be working with moving forward. Specifically, the company listed the firms AECOM, AMBERG Group, Arup, Bjarke Ingels Group, Deutsche Bahn Engineering and Consulting, KPMG, and Systra.

The company also revealed the Hyperloop One Global Challenge as well, allowing individuals or organizations to propose potential locations for Hyperloop networks to begin building out the transportation ecosystem. Entries must be submitted by September 15, 2016 and winners will be determined by March 2017.

Currently, Hyperloop One is participating in a study to determine the feasibility of a track between Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland. The company is also working to determine if Hyperloop can be used to move cargo in places like Los Angeles and Switzerland as well.

hloop1-2.jpg
Hyperloop One's track under construction.
Image: Hyperloop One

The new test track and investment are big news for Hyperloop One, but they aren't the only thing the company has planned for this year.

"We are proud to show off our progress today and look forward to meeting more milestones on our way to debuting a full-scale system later this year," said Brogan BamBrogan, Hyperloop One co-founder and CTO.

There are two main startups working on the Hyperloop concept, Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. So, for clarity's sake it makes sense that Hyperloop One decided to rebrand.

In addition to these two companies, Musk himself has shown an interest in helping develop the technology, including developing his own test track in Texas. With the growth of competition around Hyperloop, it could come to market faster than originally thought.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Hyperloop One announced a live demo of its propulsion technology and an $80 million investment from multiple investors.
  2. The company is working with the state of Nevada, as well as a host of international partners to develop the technology itself and potential Hyperloop networks around the world.
  3. Hyperloop One is hoping to debut a full Hyperloop system by the end of 2016.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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