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Hyperloop One vs Hyperloop Transportation Technologies: The Match


The two American start-ups are fighting a fierce battle to get the first supersonic train line out of the ground.

Sometimes it just takes an idea to start a whole market, especially when it comes from Elon Musk. In 2013, the visionary boss of Tesla presented some sketches of a train capable, according to him, of reaching the 1 100 km / h, a Lille-Marseille in less than one hour. The Hyperloop, which theoretically relies on capsules placed on air cushions, would be the fastest means of transport in the world.

But too busy to develop it himself, Musk prefers to let start-ups compete for business. Two of them stand out: Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. Often confused on their names, they use very different methods.

Air cushions vs magnets

Hyperloop One intends to commercialize the technology as imagined by Elon Musk, that is to say, the trains transported at the very high speed in long pipes suspended by compressed air. Specifically, an electric compressor placed at the front of the capsule pumps air to the back of the device and thus places the capsule on a carrier air cushion.

In May 2016, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced that it has integrated the Inductrack license, a technology based on passive magnetic levitation. This system works thanks to magnets built into the pods and a metal structure. The start-up went even further by already imagining the interior design of its future supersonic train. In addition to computer-generated images of how cabs for passenger transport might look, the company is already working with German virtual reality specialist Re’Flekt to design interactive and touch-sensitive virtual windows.

US projects vs international projects

On May 11, 2016, Hyperloop One played the media blow card by launching a life-size trial of the linear engine, which will propel the train in the future, against a backdrop of journalists and potential investors in the Nevada desert. the capsule in low-pressure tubes. The mobile, not yet dressed in the cabin that will carry passengers or goods in the future, has reached 160 km / h on rails in the open air for a distance of a few meters. The goal? Prove that it will be possible to transport freight from 2019 and passengers from 2021 in the United States.

In January 2016, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies did not just obtain the authorization to build an 8-kilometer test segment in California, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, whose construction should begin in mid-2016. to be completed in 2019.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has signed a partnership with Slovakia

Indeed, the firm already sees beyond its borders and concluded in March 2016 an agreement with the Slovak Ministry of Transport to develop in the country the first European Hyperloop. A line that could eventually link Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia) and Budapest (Hungary) by 2020. Hyperloop will then travel the 300 kilometers separating them in a quarter of an hour.

Full-time and temporary employees

To build its first supersonic line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Hyperloop One, formerly Hyperloop Technologies, has hired since its creation in 2015 no less than 130 full-time engineers. For his leadership, the company chose the experience with Rob Lloyd, the CEO, who for the past 20 years has climbed all the ladder at the Cisco computer giant, to become the boss of 2012 to 2015. Its co-founder Shervin Pishevar is also General Manager of Sherpa Ventures, which has notably invested heavily in Airbnb and Uber in their creation.

Rob Lloyd, the CEO of Hyperloop One, led the Cisco IT giant from 2012 to 2015

For its part, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has chosen the international and works with 520 employees from 42 different countries. Only two of them are paid and all the others work at least 10 hours a week in exchange for stock options in the company. The start-up founded by two serial entrepreneurs, the German-American Dirk Ahlborn, and the Italian Bibop Gresta, claims to have debauched the best specialists of NASA, but also, like his rival, Apple, Boeing and even Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk’s companies.

Fundraising vs. crowdfunding

After the first round of 26 million at the end of 2015, Hyperloop One raised $ 80 million in May 2016 from several venture capital companies, including GE Ventures, but also from traditional transport players such as SNCF or Deutsche Bahn.

Always in a logic of implication of its collaborators, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies preferred at first to turn towards the members of his team to know if some of them wished to invest there. More than 100 have responded, and since then “nearly 600 institutional investors, including investment funds, business angels and sovereign wealth funds, have expressed interest in investing,” Dirk Ahlborn said recently. in the columns of the JDN. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies also plans to receive funding from governments with which it will sign partnerships.

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