The company, well-known for its concept of propelling individuals at hundreds of miles per hour through a vacuum, has officially ceased operations.
Hyperloop One, based on an idea by Elon Musk, aimed to significantly reduce travel times. Despite previous support from Virgin founder Richard Branson, who withdrew his backing last year, the company is now facing closure.
According to Bloomberg, the remaining staff of the firm will be laid off by the end of the year.
Hyperloop One promised a new era of high-speed travel by utilizing magnetic levitation (maglev) technology, already implemented in some transportation systems, within a vacuum tube. This innovative approach would minimize friction and air resistance, allowing the train to reach speeds of 700 mph (1,127 km/h). Additionally, the project claimed to be environmentally friendly compared to current high-speed transportation methods.
Despite constructing prototypes in the Nevada desert, the project encountered challenges, with experts expressing doubts about its engineering feasibility. The ambitious initiative would have required the installation of massive tubes across rural areas and urban landscapes. Complications arose with the need for straight-line tubes, as the system struggled with navigating corners.
In 2020, a trial of the hyperloop system took place with two company employees, marking the first successful passenger ride using this technology. The pod achieved a top speed of 107 mph (172 km/h) during the 546 yards (500m) test run.
However, in 2022, Hyperloop One announced a strategic shift, declaring a focus on transporting cargo instead of passengers. This decision was accompanied by the announcement of over 100 job losses, followed by additional layoffs later in the year.
By the year’s end, it was reported that Richard Branson, the company’s former chairman, had withdrawn his support, leading to the loss of Virgin’s endorsement. The company had also faced scandals over the years, including the imprisonment of a former director, Ziyavudin Magomedov, in Russia on embezzlement charges. Another investor, Shervin Pishevar, departed in 2017 following allegations of sexual misconduct reported by Bloomberg.
The original hyperloop concept originated from a report published by Elon Musk in 2013, proposing the idea of propelling capsules through a tube at high speeds. Elon Musk has his own company, The Boring Company, which explores similar technology using underground tunnels.
While Hyperloop One is closing its doors, other companies worldwide continue to pursue and develop similar high-speed transportation concepts. DP World, the Dubai-based majority stakeholder in Hyperloop One, has been contacted for comments.