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Richard Branson to invest in Hyperloop One

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Hyperloop One’s test pod just hit nearly 200 mph in the Nevada desert. (Photo: Hyperloop One)

Virgin Group, led by billionaire Richard Branson, announced Thursday an investment in Hyperloop One, the tech startup hoping to create a next-generation transportation system.

The investment also includes a rebranding, to Virgin Hyperloop One. In a statement, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson praised the “innovative” high-speed service.

“From our airlines to our trains to our spaceline, we have long been passionate about innovation in transport too, especially the development of technology that could transform people’s lives,” said Branson. “This is just the latest example.”

The Hyperloop features a pod carrying passengers or cargo through a low-pressure tube. The goal is for the pods to travel as high as 700 miles per hour. Initial claims about the system have suggested travelers could go from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

Branson said he visited the testing site last summer in Las Vegas, where the Hyperloop is undergoing the early stages of testing.

“I was very impressed and now look forward to helping turn this cutting edge engineering into a global passenger service,” said Branson.

The concept behind Hyperloop was created by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. He chose not to pursue development of the technology, instead generating a race among tech startups to create the first viable system.

Hyperloop One and similar technology face multiple obstacles before making their commercial debuts, including securing funds from governments to invest it in the service, and ensuring passengers the high-speed tubes are safe for travel.

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Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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