The technology for Hyperloop One is now in the early stages of the commercialisation phase after the successful completion of the world's first full scale hyperloop systems test at the DevLoop site outside Las Vegas.
Virgin's plan is to focus on using Hyperloop One to transport passengers and cargo.
The hyperloop works by propelling pods through tubes using magnets reaching speeds akin to those of airplanes.
Hyperloop One, which has previously raised more than $160 million, is working to develop a pod system that can travel at up to 750 miles per hour with better safety than passenger jets, and lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed trains. For example, the firm envisions 30-minute trips between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
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Hyperloop One held its latest test run of a transport pod in a tube in late July in the Nevada desert.
'From our airlines to our trains to our spaceline, we have always been passionate about innovation in transport too, especially the development of technology that could transform people's lives. The company will rebrand as Virgin Hyperloop One.
In an interview with CNBC, Branson said that commercial Hyperloop could be launched in two to four years, if "governments move quickly". For somewhere shy of $85 million, the financial future of what Virgin calls "a responsible and sustainable form of transport" (in a press release that partially cribs from Wikipedia) ultimately amounts to a throwaway bet from a billionaire.
"Virgin is an iconic brand, and having Richard as an ally will help strengthen our mission to spread Hyperloop One throughout the world", Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar said in a statement.