Facts & Frequently Asked Questions | Hyperloop One

Facts & Frequently Asked Questions

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COMPANY
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What is Virgin Hyperloop One?

We’re a privately-held company out to reinvent transportation to eliminate the barriers of time and distance and unlock vast economic opportunities. Our mission is to have operational systems by 2021 that validate our ability to design, finance and build a safe, revolutionary transportation technology that scales.

When was Virgin Hyperloop One founded?

We were founded in June 2014.

How many employees does Virgin Hyperloop One have?

We currently have over 300 employees.

Where does Virgin Hyperloop One have offices?

We work out of our Innovation Campus in Los Angeles, CA; our Apex Test & Safety Site in North Las Vegas, NV; our Metalworks manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas, NV; and Regional Offices in Dubai and London.

Who is the leadership team at Virgin Hyperloop One?

We are led by CEO, Rob Lloyd; Chief Technology Officer, Josh Giegel; and Chief Financial Officer, Axel Martinez. Learn more about the team here.

How much funding has Virgin Hyperloop One received?

To date, we have received $295 million.

Who are the key investors?

Our key investors include: DP World, Sherpa Capital, 137 Ventures, Caspian VC Partners (part of Summa Group), Virgin Group, Formation 8, SNCF, GE Ventures, Zhen Fund, Fast Digital, and OurCrowd.com.

Does Virgin Hyperloop One have any partners?

We've worked with Virgin Group, Parsons, ARUP, DP World, AECOM, Ramboll, McKinsey, KPMG, FS Links, Systra, BIG, SNCF, GE, Deutsche Bahn, PA Consulting, and Lisa Kraynak (branding and strategy consultant).

Who is on the Board of Directors?

Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem (DP World), Ziyavudin Magomedov (Summa Group), Bill Shor (CVC), Justin Fishner-Wolfson (137 Ventures), Yuvraj Narayan, Anatoly Braverman, Emily White (Advisor), Jim Messina (Advisor), Josh Giegel, Rob Lloyd

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ABOUT HYPERLOOP
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What is hyperloop?

Hyperloop is a new mode of transportation that moves freight and people quickly, safely, on-demand and direct from origin to destination. Passengers or cargo are loaded into the hyperloop vehicle and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The vehicle floats above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag. Virgin Hyperloop One systems will be built on columns or tunneled below ground to avoid dangerous grade crossings and wildlife. It’s fully autonomous and enclosed, eliminating pilot error and weather hazards. It’s safe and clean, with no direct carbon emissions. Watch this video to get an idea of how hyperloop works.

Why do we need hyperloop?

A growing global economy requires faster, cheaper, safer and more efficient transportation modes. Our roads, airports, and ports are congested. We haven’t had a major new form of transport in 100 years, and we’re due for one, especially one that is ultra-fast, on-demand, direct, emission-free, energy efficient, quiet and has a smaller footprint than other high-speed transport modes. Hyperloop is additive to existing forms of transportation and will integrate seamlessly with the transport ecosystem.

Why now?

People have been dreaming of high-speed travel in tubes, including in vacuum, for more than a century. And many of the technologies we’re combining have been around for a while: linear electric motors, maglev, vacuum pumps. The catalyst was SpaceX CEO Elon Musk releasing his white paper in the summer of 2013. Musk presented a promising system architecture. We started with his basic designs and, after considering how we could provide value to the world as a whole, added a focus on moving freight in addition to passengers. We then started from the bottom-up to innovate on the technology and cost elements to deliver real value.

Is Elon Musk an investor or affiliated with Virgin Hyperloop One?

No, but we share the same goal of wanting to see hyperloop become a reality worldwide.

How is hyperloop different from high-speed trains?

There are four key differences. It’s faster, as in two to three times faster than the fastest high-speed rail. It’s on-demand and direct. Trains follow a schedule and typically have multiple stops. Hyperloop leaves when you’re ready to go, and pods can depart up to several times per minute and can transport passengers and cargo direct to their destination with no stops along the way. It’s environmentally friendly, with a smaller civil engineering footprint, more efficient energy consumption and no direct emissions or noise. It’s less expensive and different technology: High-speed rail and maglev trains require power along the entire track. As a result, the track costs more to build and more to operate. Virgin Hyperloop One achieves better performance for less cost.

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SPEED, PROPULSION/LEVITATION, ENERGY
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How fast is hyperloop?

We estimate that the top speed for a passenger vehicle or light cargo will be 670 miles per hour or 1080 kilometers per hour. That is 2-3 times faster than high-speed rail and magnetic levitation trains, and 10-15 times faster than traditional rail. The average speed vehicles will travel vary based on the route and customer requirements.

How does the motor and propulsion system work?

Virgin Hyperloop One vehicles are propelled using a linear electric motor, which is a straightened-out version of a conventional rotary motor. A conventional electric motor has two primary parts: a stator (the part that stays still) and a rotor (the part that moves or rotates). When voltage is applied to the stator it makes the rotor spin and do the work of, say, spinning a power drill. A linear electric motor has the same two main parts, however, the rotor doesn’t rotate but instead moves in a straight line along the length of the stator. In the Virgin Hyperloop One system, the stators are mounted to the tube, the rotor is mounted to the pod, and the pod straddles the stators as it accelerates down the tube.

What kind of motor do you use?

We have developed a proprietary electric propulsion system which was tested first in May 2016 in an open-air propulsion test, in May 2017 in our first full-systems test, and again in July 2017 during our Phase 2 testing.

How much noise does the hyperloop make?

Based on the physics of the system -- non-contact motion through a steel tube -- we anticipate the noise you’d hear from the outside the tube as the pod goes by at more than 500 mph would be equivalent to the sound of a truck with no wheels and no engine going 65 mph down a freeway. In other words, just a big whoosh.

Where will Virgin Hyperloop One get its power?

We’re energy-agnostic. Our system can draw power from whichever energy sources are available along the route. If that means solar and wind, then the entire system is 100% carbon free.

How much energy does a hyperloop use?

Virgin Hyperloop One is more efficient than high-speed modes of transportation. High-speed rail and maglev trains require power along the entire track, Virgin Hyperloop One only requires energy to a portion of the track. Specific energy use will be dependent upon system requirements and the terrain.

Why is XP-1 aerodynamic, given it operates in a low-pressure environment?

Our hyperloop system exists in a low-pressure environment, not a complete vacuum. When XP-1 moves in the tube, the pressure rises and drops, and air flow accelerates and decelerates around it. The shape of the pod (the aerodynamic shell or aero-shell) has been optimized to accommodate aerodynamic loads while adhering to strict constraints.

How did we test XP-1?

We designed and numerically simulated the aero-shell using Computer Assisted Design (CAD) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). We then manufactured it, integrated it onto our levitating chassis, added sensors and instruments, and went to the desert to test and experimentally validate our analytical and numerical results. By doing so, we gathered invaluable data that informed our design decisions and pushed the envelope of the numerical and experimental tools at our disposal to areas that had never been investigated before.

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PASSENGER EXPERIENCE & SAFETY
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Is hyperloop safe?

Safety is our number-one priority and we’re designing hyperloop to be inherently safer and more reliable than maglev or high-speed rail. We have no at-grade crossings (by far the leading risk posed by trains), so there are no interactions with other forms of transport or wildlife. We are fully autonomous, so there is no driver related error. We are immune from most weather events. We will have multiple emergency braking techniques, triggering an immediate braking of the vehicle. Vehicles will have a full suite of life support systems, and we have the ability to re-pressurize the tube if needed. We strive to surpass the safety of all existing transport systems, and have a dedicated safety team to work with authorities to define and implement best practice safety protocols.

What will it feel like riding in the hyperloop?

About the same as riding in an elevator or a passenger plane. Although hyperloop will be fast, the systems we are building will accelerate with the same tolerable G forces as that of taking off in a Boeing 747. With hyperloop you will be accelerating and decelerating gradually and, depending on the route, we will incorporate banking into our designs to eliminate G forces even more. And there’s no turbulence.

How is hyperloop going to get certified by safety agencies and regulators?

As with any new transport infrastructure, there will be regulatory hurdles to overcome. We believe that hyperloop is a new mode of transportation and will require a fresh approach to regulation. We’ve already begun the early stages of the certification process and look forward to continuing our work with regulators to meet existing regulations where appropriate and create new ones where needed.

What happens if there's a sudden breach in the tube?

Our tubes are constructed out of thick, strong steel and are very difficult to puncture or buckle. We’re designing and constructing the tube and pods explicitly to handle down to 100 Pa of pressure or more (equivalent to air pressure at 200,000 feet above sea level), changes in air pressure, and to safely tolerate small leaks, holes, and even breaches without suffering from reduced structural integrity.

If there was a leak or breach in our tube in an operational system air would leak into the tube. The affected vehicles would slow down due to the additional air pressure, or require a power boost to get them to the next station. The pods will be built to withstand even sudden air pressure changes safely. We will also have the ability to section off parts of the route and re-pressurize sections in the case of a significant emergency. Every pod will have emergency exits if needed, but mostly pods will glide safely to the next portal (station) or egress point in the event of an emergency. Additionally, we are building sensors throughout the system to notify of any leaks or breaches and we would be able to identify and perform maintenance to resolve any leaks quickly.

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ROUTES & COSTS
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When will hyperloop systems be ready for cargo and passengers?

Our goal is to have operational systems by 2021.

Where will the first hyperloop get built?

We are working with organizations around the world to study potential routes and are in continuing discussions with governments and organizations to progress the first projects. Our goal is to have operational systems in service by 2021.

How much will Virgin Hyperloop One systems cost to build and operate?

Capital and operating costs will range widely based on route and application (passenger, cargo) but third parties have concluded that the capital and operational costs of a hyperloop system is two-thirds that of high-speed rail.

How much will tickets cost?

Difficult to say as it will depend greatly on the route, but the goal is to make it affordable for everyone.