Hypleroop One will rebrand itself as Virgin Hyperloop One, and Branson will join the board, the billionaire British investor announced Thursday on CNBC. The investment amount was not immediately disclosed.
Hyperloop One already had deep pockets. Just last month, the company raised $85 million in new funding.
Virgin Hyperloop One will focus on a passenger and mixed-use cargo service. But so far, no government has approved plan for a hyperloop system.
The idea was conceived by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Musk in 2013. It works by propelling pods through tubes using magnets reaching speeds akin to those of airplanes.
Earlier this year, Hyperloop One carried out a full-scale test of its technology. A test sled was propelled through the tube for 5.3 seconds. The company said it hit nearly 2Gs of acceleration and a speed of 70 mph during the run. The next testing will target speeds up to 250 mph and feature the company’s first passenger pod gliding through the hyperloop over a greater distance.
The company has been in talks with several governments, including the United Arab Emirates and Finland, to study the feasibility of building such a system. No deal has been signed. The company told CNBC in September that the Middle East would be a preferable market to begin with.
In July, Musk said his tunnel-digging firm The Boring Company had received “verbal” approval from governments to begin digging a tunnel for a hyperloop from New York to Washington, D.C.
Virgin Hyperloop One is not the only company developing the technology. Rival Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is also in talks with governments in Asia and Europe about building its own system.
Some critics have poured cold water on the hyperloop. Amtrak President Richard Anderson told CNBC recently that hyperloop systems would not be taking over rail transport anytime soon. He also added that such technology is not “realistic” right now.
Richard Branson's Virgin Group invests in Hyperloop One