Sarah D. Young Reporter and Editor
Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson says he hopes to see hyperloop travel become a reality within three years.
Branson, who chairs Virgin Hyperloop One, said he finds the prospect of hyperloop travel -- or the concept of transporting people and goods via pods -- “ridiculously exciting.” He believes it won’t be long before humans are traveling by hyperloop.
“We’re talking about two to three years away, not many years away,” Branson told CNBC from Dubai on Sunday. “My children and grandchildren are going to want the same things as I’m going to want—they’re going to want to get to places quicker.”
"I think if we can build Virgin Hyperloops in a number of different countries, connecting countries, that will bring the world much closer,” he said.
On Sunday, Virgin Hyperloop One and Dubai port operator DP World announced a new joint venture called DP World Cargospeed. The goal of the partnership is to build high-speed delivery systems for cargo using hyperloop technology.
The idea of a hyperloop was introduced in 2013 by Tesla founder Elon Musk. Hyperloop transport would allow humans and cargo to travel in pods through a large underground system at speeds of 750 mph using magnets.
"When you're talking about the pods going at 6, 7, 800 miles an hour, both with people and cargo, that's tremendously exciting," Branson said.
Hyperloop technology could be used to transport passengers between two airports in minutes, Branson said, adding that the concept would allow people to avoid traffic jams simply by "jumping into a pod.”
“Suddenly, those two airports effectively become one airport,” Branson said. “All the misery of travel can be taken away.”
Hyperloop travel would drastically cut down on travel time while also costing less. Virgin Hyperloop One CTO Josh Giegel said that passenger ticket prices on a hyperloop will be comparable to existing methods of transport, such as air or rail travel. Transporting cargo would be less expensive because hyperloop travel is “less energy intensive than a plane.”
“This is going to be a system for everybody, not just the super-rich,” Giegel said. However, he noted that “there will be a little bit of a premium that you pay because it’s so fast.”
Virgin Hyperloop One is one of a few other companies pouring millions of dollars into designing the systems. Hyperloop One has planned routes in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also intends to build a route between Mumbai and Pune in India, with the goal of eventually implementing the technology around the world.