Hyperloop One has announced plans to cease operations by the end of 2023

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Hyperloop POD displayed at SpaceX

Hyperloop One, the innovative transportation company responsible for propelling us through low-pressure tubes at rates comparable to airlines, is coming to a close.

The business is currently divesting its assets, shutting down its branches, and terminating its staff. By the end of the year, it will officially cease operations and transfer all intellectual property to its top shareholder, DP World – a prominent port operator in Dubai. Should anyone purchase the Nevada desert test track, they’ll have quite the exhilarating Slip ‘N Slide at their disposal.

Established in 2014, the company has secured approximately $450 million in total investments from venture capital sources. Although a few startups remain dedicated to developing hyperloop technology, the failure of one major company marks the downfall of the dream initially sparked by Elon Musk’s “alpha paper” in 2013.

According to Musk’s theory, it is possible to use aerodynamic aluminum capsules to transport passengers or cargo at speeds of 760mph through a tube with very little air resistance. These tubes could be constructed above ground on pylons or underground between cities, and would bring about a new mode of transportation. He believed that this innovative approach could significantly impact our daily lives, work habits, trade practices, and travel experiences.

His most captivating proposal involved a journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a mere half hour, quickly capturing the interest of engineers and investors worldwide.

Virgin Hyperloop, formerly known as Hyperloop Technologies and then Hyperloop One, was initially established in 2016. After being acquired by Richard Branson’s company, it rebranded once again to Virgin Hyperloop One. With an impressive amount of funding and a grand vision of global hyperloop infrastructure, the company started off on a strong note.

In 2017, the company resolved a legal dispute with co-founder Brogan BamBrogan regarding allegations of harassment and sabotage. A year later, fellow co-founder Shervin Pishevar was removed from the company following accusations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

The company consistently faced financial struggles, but Branson stepped in and secured a much-needed $50 million investment from two current supporters. This enabled the company to fulfill payroll commitments. Additionally, in 2019, the company received $172 million in fresh funding, with $90 million being contributed by DP World. This brings their total investments to $115 million and grants them two seats on the startup’s board of directors.

The company achieved various significant advancements, such as constructing a test track in Nevada to evaluate the safety and viability of the technology. In 2020, it carried out its initial (and sole) human passenger test. However, the pod fell considerably short of its initial pledge of reaching a velocity seven times faster, only reaching a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour.

According to critics, the hyperloop is a technically feasible concept, but it is often dismissed as mere vaporware. Its proponents describe it as a utopian idea that faces significant financial barriers. Despite seeming to be years from completion, some still insist that it is “just around the corner.” In fact, back in 2017, top executives at Virgin Hyperloop confidently predicted that operational hyperloops would be seen worldwide by 2020. However, this timeline has since been adjusted to 2021.

Amidst the pandemic, the majority of Hyperloop One’s key leaders and originators departed, prompting the company to drop “Virgin” from its name due to a shift towards freight instead of passenger transport.

Currently, there are no fully operational hyperloops anywhere on the globe. The test tunnel built by Musk in California is no longer in existence.

Musk’s underground tunneling venture, The Boring Company, continues to excavate beneath Las Vegas – but now for Teslas instead of hyperloops. It appears that the future is on par with the present.

 

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