For Hyperloop One – Electrek, the game is over

by Z22 and licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons

Hyperloop One, the futuristic transportation company (in case you forgot) that promised to carry passengers and cargo from city to city in vacuum-sealed tubes at jet speeds, is officially over — but this time it’s real. The vaunted, long-struggling company will officially close its doors on December 31, according to Bloomberg.

It was all a crazy fever dream, and a very expensive one at that. Elon Musk presented his original idea back in 2013 in an “alpha paper,” in which he theorized that Jetson-style aerodynamic capsules filled with passengers or cargo would travel through tubes to and from cities at up to 760 miles per hour could become. He described it as a “fifth mode of transportation,” with a dream scenario that goes from Los Angeles to San Francisco and New York to DC in 30 minutes, ultimately changing the way we live and work.

While (real) scientists and engineers debunked the project as extremely unlikely, Musk’s idea still proved too irresistible. In 2014, Hyperloop One raised hundreds of millions of dollars and then burned them developing its vision, which went through several iterations over the years. Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson brought his financial might to the company in 2017, bringing in $350 million in investment alongside Dubai-based port logistics company DP World, but the money was quickly spent.

There were other hurdles along the way: co-founder Shervin Pishevar had to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct by several women. Additionally, Branson was vocal in his criticism of Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, and Saudi Arabia pulled the plug on its plan with the company, after which Branson resigned as chairman.

In 2020, the company conducted its first and only test with human passengers using the Hyperloop pod, but it fell short of expectations and only reached 100 miles per hour. The pandemic didn’t help the situation much, as founders and executives quickly retreated afterward.

Hyperloop One then scrapped the idea of ​​flying people around in capsules to focus on cargo in 2022 – DP World obviously had no small part in that decision. The company has dropped Virgin from its name and halved its workforce of 200 employees. DP World now owns the intellectual property rights and all physical assets, including a test track outside Las Vegas and all equipment, all of which will be sold, according to Bloomberg.

As for the utopian dream: Musk’s test tunnel was converted into a parking lot, and to this day there are no full-fledged hyperloops in the world. The Boring Company is still digging tunnels in Las Vegas, but not for futuristic travel, but for human-powered Teslas that travel to and from convention centers at 35 miles per hour.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons, photo by Z22 and licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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