The European Union (EU) has made its first direct funding investment into hyperloop technology, pledging $17.4 billion to Dutch startup Hardt Hyperloop.
The investment comes from the European Commission’s European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator and will help Hardt to accelerate the development of the hyperloop in Europe.
Hardt said the investment demonstrates that the EU is interested in investing in the hyperloop as part of its goals for sustainability. Additionally, the investment fits into the European Green Deal, which includes hyperloop in a strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.
Hyperloop technology uses magnetic levitation to lift a pod off the track and guide it as it moves, creating a friction-free track. Almost all the air in the tube surrounding the pod is removed to create the same environment found at 200,000 ft above sea level. The combination of the linear motor, magnetic levitation and low-pressure tube reduces drag so that only a small amount of electricity is needed to propel the pod at speeds as high as 670 mph. This could possibly create a more cost-effective system than high-speed rail or airline transportation.
The technology is not only ultra-fast but is purportedly energy-efficient and completely CO2 neutral. This combination is one of the reasons the hyperloop has gained attention in the transportation market as countries look for new ways to meet carbon footprint requirements while providing new ways of traveling for consumers.
Hardt has teamed up with public and private partners in the Hyperloop Development Program for the integration of this transportation alongside cars, trains and planes as well as developing hyperloop routes. Hardt will also demonstrate the technology in the European Hyperloop Center.
The center is being developed with the Province and Municipality of Groningen, Netherlands, and is critical to demonstrate lane-switching for high-speed hyperloop in 2023, Hardt said. Lane-switching is a key to a hyperloop network that can offer direct journeys without the need for intermediate stops.
Other European investments
While this is the first direct EU investment into the so-called fifth mode of transportation, there have been private and regional investments into the technology already.
Earlier this month, the European Rail Infrastructure managers (EIM) signed an agreement with seven hyperloop players to cooperate on future hyperloop and rail infrastructure.
Earlier this year, HyperloopTT unveiled its vision of a cargo transportation system using the hyperloop in Hamburg, Germany. The system, called HyperPort, would allow for the transportation of containerized cargo hundreds of kilometers in minutes and moving 2,800 containers per day.
Meanwhile, Virgin Hyperloop is developing a facility in Spain to advance technology development and testing of hyperloop technology as well as lead to regional economic growth and job creation.