FutureStructure

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Tech Picks Up Momentum

First unveiled by Musk in 2013, the hyperloop would speed travelers at 760 miles per hour through a network of sealed tubes, the passengers riding in capsules that would surf on electromagnetic waves within the tubes.

by David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle / May 11, 2016

(TNS) -- A Los Angeles startup chasing Elon Musk’s “hyperloop” dream of tube-based travel between cities reported Tuesday that it has raised $80 million in its latest financing round and forged partnerships with some of the world’s most prominent engineering firms.

Hyperloop One also plans an open-air demonstration of its technology Wednesday at its Nevada testing facility.

“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 co-founder and Executive Chairman Shervin Pishevar, in a press release. “The brightest minds are coming together at the right time to eliminate the distances and borders that separate economies and cultures.”

The startup has formed alliances with several engineering and consulting firms — including Aecom and Arup — to flesh out the concept and study how it could be applied in different places, from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to Switzerland and Sweden. Pishevar is a well-known technology investor whose portfolio includes Uber, Postmates and TaskRabbit.

“Hyperloop has the potential to solve many of today’s most complex long-distance transport issues,” said Gregory Hodkinson, chairman of the Arup Group, which is based in London. “If railways helped enable the first industrial revolution, Hyperloop has the potential to do the same for the information economy, overcoming distances and creating connections between people, places, ideas and opportunities.”

First unveiled by Musk in 2013, the hyperloop would speed travelers at 760 miles per hour through a network of sealed tubes, the passengers riding in capsules that would surf on electromagnetic waves within the tubes. Musk proposed building the first hyperloop route between Los Angeles and San Francisco, saying it would be far faster and cheaper than California’s high-speed rail project.

Musk, the CEO of both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, encouraged other engineers and entrepreneurs to take the idea and run with it, rather than leading the effort himself. Two competing Southern California startups quickly accepted the challenge, and gave themselves nearly identical names.

Hyperloop One used to be known as Hyperloop Technologies. Its rival, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, plans to install the first version of its own system in a planned, solar-powered community to be built along Interstate 5 in Kings County. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, also known as HTT, reported Monday that it will use a passive magnetic levitation system developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Hyperloop One’s funders include a combination of venture capital firms as well as France’s state-owned national rail company, SNCF. Backers include Caspian Venture Partners, 8VC, GE Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Pishevar’s Sherpa Ventures, ZhenFund and 137 Ventures. A spokesman said the company has raised roughly $100 million to date.

©2016 the San Francisco Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.