There is no fully functional hyperloop in the world, but that can change quickly, as civil servants in India have recently identified the ultra-fast, futuristic transportation system as a & # 39; public infrastructure project & # 39; and make a bid for the construction soon.
There are still many obstacles to overcome, such as certifying the hyperloop as safe for human passengers. But Virgin Hyperloop One, one of the few companies that work to realize Elon Musk & # 39; s dream of vacuum tube travel, is convinced that his project in the western district of Maharashtra is anything but a foregone conclusion.
Maharashtra officials have named Virgin Hyperloop One and its partner shipping giant DP World as the founders of the millions-dollar infrastructure project. The local government is expected to start a formal bidding process for building a Pune-to-Mumbai hyperloop, which is expected to connect the two cities in less than 35 minutes (instead of a 3.5-hour drive) . Virgin Hyperloop One said it is expected to be the winner, at which point it becomes groundbreaking on the world's first hyperloop.
No tax money is being spent on the project, the company says. DP World, a major Dubai port operator with significant operations in India, will spend $ 500 million to complete phase one of the project; the rest of the money comes from other investors.
The designation is "incredibly important to advance hyperloop worldwide," said Ryan Kelly, head of marketing and communications at Virgin Hyperloop One, in an email. “This is not an exploration; this is a solid confirmation. "
Virgin Hyperloop One recently raised $ 172 million in new funding, with at least $ 90 million from DP World. The hyperloop startup was looking for $ 224 million in this stock sale, according to a request from the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Eighty investors contributed to the round, but specific investors were not mentioned. DP World previously invested $ 25 million in Virgin Hyperloop One and already has two seats on the startup board.
It remains to be seen whether officials in India will feel comfortable approving the construction of a theoretical transportation system that has never been tested with human passengers. Virgin Hyperloop One has a testing facility in the desert north of Las Vegas, where it has repeatedly sent its magnetically floating pod through an almost airless tube at speeds up to 240 mph (370 km / h). That is incredibly fast, but much less than the theoretical maximum speed of the 700 mph hyperloop. The company believes it needs an extra 2,000 meter (1.2 mile) lane to reach that speed.
Virgin Hyperloop One & # 39; s interest in India dates from 2017, when the company signed agreements with the governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka to study the impact of a hyperloop in the region.
The company also recently launched a roadshow through the American Midwest to show people their prototype XP-1 hyperloop pod up close. Virgin Hyperloop One plans to hit cities such as Columbus, OH; Arlington, TX; Kansas City, KS; and others in the coming months. Missouri is one of the states that the company sees as a potential future construction site.