The Hyperloop is becoming a modern day gold rush, with 2 technology companies battling to capitalize on the transportation mode’s promise of interstate travel at breakneck speed.
The innovation, with its science fiction-like description, is the brainchild of entrepreneur and Tesla Motors (TSLA)founder Elon Musk. The technology looks to challenge existing transportation methods by offering cheaper, faster and safer travel through a low-pressure system that move pods just under sonic levels, at about 760 mph. As the the idea gradually moves from concept to reality, a number of startups aim to plant their flags in the emerging sector.
“We are the first ones that took the Elon Musk project in 2013 and transformed it into something real,” Bibop Gresta, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) COO told CNBC in a recent interview. “We are the only company who are actually building a real full-scale Hyperloop.”
Yet a company with a similar name, Hyperloop technologies, is also jumping into the fray. The company has raised $100 million in funding to track test Hyperloop technology in Nevada, and is also trying to stake a claim on the emerging technology.
Recently, Gresta’s company announced the construction of a Hyperloop prototype in Quay Valley, California, which is halfway between L.A. and San Francisco. The company also signed a deal with Slovakia, a hub for technology development in Europe, which HTT expects will be a beneficial catalyst for Hyperloop’s expansion quest.
Gresta told CNBC that the difference between Hyperloop Technologies and HTT is that his company researched its scheme aside 520 scientist from 42 countries before building a “full-scale” Hyperloop. He contends that Hyperloop Technologies has taken a different approach, and that employees of Space X and NASA are working actively with HTT.
“There’s an old model where you raise a bunch of money and then you have to spend it as fast as you can to demonstrate to your investor that you’re doing something,” he told CNBC, before adding that the corporation is “very happy to create an industry together because it means that the concept is valid.”
Separately, Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop Technologies told CNBC that his company is “clearly leading” the development of the Hyperloop concept, as itsboard members have been leaders in major companies before the startup. Hyperloop Technologies is looking to reap nearly $10 million in various incentives from the state of Nevada for its rail, which will carry passengers at 600 miles per hour.
“Our company is leading; we are not the only company, I don’t expect us to be the only company, but we are the company that’s leading.” Lloyd said in a recent interview. He added that positions in Hyperloop Technology are in high demand, with 130 full-time employees and hundreds of applicants per open positions.
Lloyd is a tech veteran, having worked for Cisco Systems (CSCO) for more than 20 years before joining Hyperloop Tech. Co-founder Shervin Pishevar, who is also managing director of Sherpa Ventures, a venture capital firm that’s invested in startups such as AirBnB, Uber and Munchery, co-leads the tech start-up.
Regardless, the idea of rapid transportation is gathering momentum, and may get a boost from the federal government. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said recently that Hyperloop tech could be eligible for funding via the University Transportation Centers program, which doles out more than $70 million per year.
Lloyd said that the difference between his company and others is that Hyperloop Tech focuses on both freight and people. Gresta also mentioned the idea of transported goods in a recent interview.
“The movement of freight is something that has tremendous impact on reducing traffic, moving to a more sustainable electric only and even shipping containers,” Lloyd said. “Our company believes this will be truly transformational.”
Written by Denise Garcia of CNBC