Hyperloop One startup, intent on zipping people along at near-supersonic speeds in pressurized tubes, announced Tuesday that the French national rail company had joined its growing list of backers.
Hyperloop One said that it raised $80 million in fresh funding from an array of investors, including GE Ventures and France's SNCF.
“The overwhelming response we've had already confirms what we've always known, that Hyperloop One is at the forefront of a movement to solve one of the planet's most pressing problems,” Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar said.
“The brightest minds are coming together at the right time to eliminate the distances and borders that separate economies and cultures.”
While the idea of the Hyperloop replacing France's already high-speed TGV services might seem a little too far-fetched at the moment, French rail chiefs clearly see some potential in the project.
So why not all ow us to dream a little.
With Hyperloop's average speed of 970km/hour, imagine all the cities in France being within an hour's travelling time from Paris. Paris to Marseille for example could take as little as 40 minutes – the time spent by many commuters on the Paris Metro each morning.
A trip to Rome on the Hyperloop would also be little over an hour away and Berlin would be 55 minutes according to very, very early guesstimates.
Pishevar and Brogan BamBrogan founded Hyperloop One, originally named Hyperloop Technologies, in 2013 to make real Elon Musk's well-researched vision of a lightning-fast transport system with the potential to transform how people live.
Musk outlined his futuristic idea in a paper released in 2013, challenging innovators to bring the dream to life.
Hyperloop One, one of the startups that picked up the gauntlet Musk threw down, plans a demonstration Wednesday in the desert outside Las Vegas to show what it has accomplished so far.
BamBrogan also promised a “full-scaled, full-speed” demo by the end of the year.
“It's not just a faster train; it is an absolute on-demand experience,” he said during a presentation here late Tuesday.
“It leaves when you get there and goes directly to your destination.”
He went on to playfully describe Hyperloop as having such a controlled environment that it would be “elevator smooth” as well as “pet friendly, kid friendly, grandma friendly.”
Hyperloop One is so confident in the speed at which the project is moving that it announced a global challenge in which businesses, governments, citizens, academics and others can submit proposals for where the systems should be built.
“Just like an Olympics bidding process, we want to understand the great ideas in the world and then extract the best one,” Hyperloop One chief executive Rob Lloyd said.