Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles-based startup working on an ultrafast tube transportation system, is no more. It’s now Virgin Hyperloop One, thanks to the investment of Richard Branson.
The company announced Thursday that Branson and Virgin Group have invested an unspecified sum of money into the project, leading to the rebranding and creation of a “strategic partnership” that sees Branson join Hyperloop One’s board of directors.
“After visiting Hyperloop One’s test site in Nevada and meeting its leadership team this past summer, I am convinced this groundbreaking technology will change transportation as we know it and dramatically cut journey times,” Branson, who founded Virgin Group, said in a statement.“Virgin has been known for investing in and creating innovative companies over the years, and I look forward to making history together as we bring Hyperloop to the world as Virgin Hyperloop One.”
“For more than 20 years, Richard and Virgin have been at the forefront of transportation innovation, and a partnership with them feels like a natural fit,” Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and executive chairman of Hyperloop One, said in a statement. “Virgin is an iconic brand and having Richard as an ally will help strengthen our mission to spread Hyperloop One throughout the world.”
Virgin Hyperloop One says it will continue to develop its passenger and cargo services, which can theoretically travel at speeds nearing 700 miles per hour in aerodynamic pods propelled through a depressurized tube. So far, the company has achieved speeds close to 200 miles per hour during its second phase of testing at the end of July. Pishevar and chief engineer Josh Giegel told Fortune in early August that the next round of testing would commence “within the next couple months.”
Other companies are working on the concept as well. Elon Musk, who first pitched the idea in 2013, said one his enterprises, The Boring Company, received “verbal government approval” to construct a hyperloop system between New York City and Washington, D.C. Fellow startups Arrivo and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies additionally have ventures in the working.
Virgin is no stranger to the transportation space — especially when it comes to futuristic modes of travel. In addition to airlines, cruise ships and rail franchises, Virgin Galactic is currently developing what it hopes will become the world’s first commercial “spaceline.”